Airplane (illustrative)
Airplane (illustrative) Thinkstock

Bereaved families are clinging to new hopes that missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 may be found Sunday, after search teams reported that a series of "pings " were heard in the Indian Ocean - and may be from the crucial black boxes holding the key to the flight's fate. 

Ships hunting for the Boeing 777, which went missing with 290 passengers and crew on board on March 8, have heard the "pings" three separate times now - and investigators have called it "an important and encouraging lead." 

"We have an acoustic event. The job now is to determine the significance of that event. It does not confirm or deny the presence of the aircraft locator on the bottom of the ocean," Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston stated to a Perth press conference on Saturday.

He added that the lead could mean something - but also warned not to get hopes too high over the development. 

"We are treating each of them seriously. We need to ensure before we leave any of those areas that this does not have any connection with MH370," he continued. 

"Black boxes" are the crucial components of any commercial aircraft which record the plane's movements and technical settings at any given time - the Flight Data Recorder - and audio from the cockpit, in the Cockpit Voice Recorder. This sensory and audio data is crucial in any air crash investigation, and often reveals the true causes of any air mishap. 

Meanwhile, CNN reports Sunday that Malaysian officials have finally begun to break their conspicuous silence over the missing aircraft - and the results are not good. 

Malaysian officials stated that the plane "skirted around Indonesia." Analysts claim the move was probably to avoid radar detection - and hightens suspicions, once again, that the plane's disappearance was the result of terrorism. 

The news is the latest in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 case, which has been the subject of international attention after it disappeared without a trace last month.

A range of theories as to its fate have emerged – from hijacking to crashing to being diverted for use in a terror attack, possibly against Israel. Later theories have become even wilder, ranging from an onboard fire to a suicide mission

Controversy reigns over every detail of the flight, including the co-pilot's last words - "All right, good night" - and the fact that two Iranian nationals with stolen passports were on board.

An extensive search across the massive Indian Ocean has produced mixed messages from government officials, as bereaved families are fed hope on the one hand, and told the flight has not yet been found on another. 

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