Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 discovered a pulse signal with a frequency used by black box locator beacons while searching in the South Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian passenger jet on Saturday, reports Xinhua.

There is no confirmation that the signal belongs to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people on board. If it does, however, it will be a critical step toward finding the plane.

The pulse signal with a 37.5 kHz per second frequency was detected 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) northwest of Perth, Australia, at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude. (See approximate location on the map above from Voice of America's Steve Herman).

Attempts to find the signal have escalated with the battery on the locator beacon expected to run out soon. On Saturday, there were at least 11 ships, 10 military planes, three civilian aircraft, as well as underwater robots searching across 84,000 square miles.

Authorities still have no explanation for why the plane flew off course on March 8 or what happened to it. Malaysia Airlines representatives told families on March 24 that they "assume beyond a reasonable doubt ... that none of those on board survived."

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