Sydney (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday he was "very confident" that signals detected in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 were from the aircraft's black box.
"We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box," Abbott said from China.
Australia has been leading the search for the Boeing 777 aircraft, which went missing on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, ever since the operation was moved to the Indian Ocean.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, left, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott talk during their meeting at the Commonwealth Parliament Offices Thursday, April 3, 2014 in Perth, Australia.
More than 100 flights over the remote area off western Australia have so far failed to return a single piece of debris from the plane, but four signals or "pings" linked aircraft beacons have been detected by an Australian ship.
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 prays in front of a placard at a praying room in Beijing
The first two of these, which were picked up by the Australian vessel Ocean Shield using US equipment, have been analysed as being consistent with those from black box data recorders.
Speaking in Shanghai, Abbott said the search area had now been "very much narrowed down because we've now had a series of detections, some for quite a long period of time."
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cries prays at a praying room in Beijing
"Nevertheless, we're getting to the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade," he said in comments broadcast on Sky News.
"We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires."
Abbott said he did not want to go into any further detail until he had briefed Chinese President Xi Jinping on the investigation. Some two-thirds of the 239 people onboard Flight MH370 were Chinese.