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Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370: Hunt for blackbox with ping locators begins

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A Korean Air Force P3 Orion returns from the search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

A Korean Air Force P3 Orion returns from the search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

A briefing onboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion before take-off to fly to the search zone (AP)

A briefing onboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion before take-off to fly to the search zone (AP)

An observer on a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft takes photos out of a window while searching for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April 1, 2014 near Australia. Bad weather and poor visibility caused the search to be called off early with the coast guard plane only completing one of its three 210 nautical mile legs. (Photo by Rob Griffith - Pool via Getty Images)

An observer on a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft takes photos out of a window while searching for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April 1, 2014 near Australia. Bad weather and poor visibility caused the search to be called off early with the coast guard plane only completing one of its three 210 nautical mile legs. (Photo by Rob Griffith - Pool via Getty Images)

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A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns to RAAF Base Pearce after continuing the search for debris or wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 26, 2014 in Perth, Australia. The search for flight MH370 resumes today after rough winds and high swells prevented air and sea crews from searching for debris yesterday. (Photo by Rob Griffith - Pool/Getty Images)

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns to RAAF Base Pearce after continuing the search for debris or wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 26, 2014 in Perth, Australia. The search for flight MH370 resumes today after rough winds and high swells prevented air and sea crews from searching for debris yesterday. (Photo by Rob Griffith - Pool/Getty Images)

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Selamat Omar, the father of aviation engineer Mohamad Khairul Amri who was on flight MH370 reads a local newspaper on March 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)

Selamat Omar, the father of aviation engineer Mohamad Khairul Amri who was on flight MH370 reads a local newspaper on March 25, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)

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Chinese relatives of flight MH370 walk towards the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Chinese relatives of flight MH370 walk towards the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns to Perth after searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane (AP)

A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns to Perth after searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane (AP)

RAAF Navigation / Communications Officer Brittany Sharpe operates from her station onboard an AP-3C Orion whilst on a search mission in the Southern Indian Ocean on March 26, 2014 in Perth, Australia. The search for flight MH370 resumes today after rough winds and high swells prevented crews from searching for debris yesterday. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

RAAF Navigation / Communications Officer Brittany Sharpe operates from her station onboard an AP-3C Orion whilst on a search mission in the Southern Indian Ocean on March 26, 2014 in Perth, Australia. The search for flight MH370 resumes today after rough winds and high swells prevented crews from searching for debris yesterday. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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The cockpit crew of a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion are pictured upon their return from a search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, at RAAF base Pearce on March 26, 2014 in Bullsbrook, Australia. (Photo by Jason Reed - Pool/Getty Images)

The cockpit crew of a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion are pictured upon their return from a search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, at RAAF base Pearce on March 26, 2014 in Bullsbrook, Australia. (Photo by Jason Reed - Pool/Getty Images)

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Flight Lt. Jayson Nichols shields his face from the sun as he looks out the cockpit of a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft during a search operation of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Martina, Pool)

Flight Lt. Jayson Nichols shields his face from the sun as he looks out the cockpit of a Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion aircraft during a search operation of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 over the southern Indian Ocean, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Martina, Pool)

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Women holds candle during a candle light vigil to remember the victim of the ill-fated flight MH370

Women holds candle during a candle light vigil to remember the victim of the ill-fated flight MH370

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Chinese relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 arrange banners before speaking to reporters at a hotel in Subang Jaya, Malaysia (AP)

Chinese relatives of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 arrange banners before speaking to reporters at a hotel in Subang Jaya, Malaysia (AP)

International Air Transport Association boss Tony Tyler says it is hard to believe Flight MH370 disappeared (AP)

International Air Transport Association boss Tony Tyler says it is hard to believe Flight MH370 disappeared (AP)

A Korean Air Force P3 Orion returns from the search operation for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 (AP)

Underwater search for missing flight MH370 is to begin using pinger locators on UK and Australian ships.

Two naval vessels are using towed pinger locators and acoustic gear across swath of the southern Indian Ocean in an attempt to locate the flight data recorder, said Angus Houston, the head of the Australian agency coordinating search operations.

The data recorders emit a ping that can be detected by special equipment in the immediate vicinity.

But the battery-powered devices stop transmitting the pings about 30 days after a crash. Locating the data recorders and wreckage after that is possible, but becomes an even more daunting task. The batteries in both recorders are likely to fail within days.

Yesterday, the British navy's HMS Echo reported one alert as it searched for sonic transmissions from the missing plane's flight data recorder, but it was quickly discounted as a false alarm, the search co-ordination centre said.

False alerts can come from animals such as whales, or interference from shipping noise.

The Ocean Shield, an Australian warship carrying a US device that detects "pings" from the plane's flight recorders, was expected to arrive by tomorrow.

No confirmed trace of the plane's wreckage has been found. Spotting wreckage is key to narrowing the search area and ultimately finding the plane's data recorders, which would provide a wealth of information about the condition the plane was flying under and the communications or sounds in the cockpit.

Meanwhile more planes joined the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 today, heading out to a remote part of the Indian Ocean.

They resumed the hunt the day after leaders of the two countries heading multinational efforts to find the missing jetliner vowed that no effort would be spared to give closure to the families of those on board.

More resources were committed to the search today, with 14 planes and nine ships planning to scour an 84,000 square mile expanse about 1,100 miles north-west of Perth, the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre said.

Ten planes were involved in yesterday's search.

Yesterday, Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak flew to Australia for briefings on the search for the Boeing 777 and to meet his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, whose country is overseeing the hunt.

"It is a very difficult search - the most difficult in human history. But as far as Australia is concerned, we are throwing everything we have at it," Mr Abbott said.

No trace of the jetliner has been found nearly four weeks after it vanished in the early hours of March 8 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The co-ordination centre overseeing the search described weather in the search area today as fair, with visibility about six miles and cloud above the optimum search altitude of 1,000 feet.

Mr Najib's government has been harshly criticised by some victims' families for giving sometimes conflicting information about the flight and for the slow pace of the investigation.

He said everyone involved in the search is thinking of the families of victims who are waiting desperately for news.

"I know that until we find the plane, many families cannot start to grieve," he said.

"I cannot imagine what they are going through. But I can promise them that we will not give up.

"We want to provide comfort to the families and we will not rest until answers are indeed found. In due time, we will provide a closure for this event."

Earlier this week, officials warned the investigation may never fully answer why the airliner disappeared.

A lack of information has plagued investigators from the moment the plane's transponders, which make the plane visible to commercial radar, were shut off.

Military radar picked up the jet just under an hour later, way off course on the other side of the Malay Peninsula.

The authorities say that until then, its "movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane," but have not ruled out anything, including mechanical error.

Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane.

The backgrounds of the passengers have been checked by investigators and nothing suspicious has been found.

Yesterday, the British navy's HMS Echo reported one alert as it searched for sonic transmissions from the missing plane's flight data recorder, but it was quickly discounted as a false alarm, the search co-ordination centre said.

False alerts can come from animals such as whales, or interference from shipping noise.

The Ocean Shield, an Australian warship carrying a US device that detects "pings" from the plane's flight recorders, was expected to arrive by tomorrow.

No confirmed trace of the plane's wreckage has been found. Spotting wreckage is key to narrowing the search area and ultimately finding the plane's data recorders, which would provide a wealth of information about the condition the plane was flying under and the communications or sounds in the cockpit.