PERTH, Australia (CBSNewYork/AP) — There is new hope surrounding the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

China’s official news agency said a Chinese ship that is part of the multinational search effort looking for the missing plane has detected a “pulse signal” in southern Indian Ocean waters.

The report said a black box detector deployed by the vessel, Haixun 01, picked up a signal at 37.5Hz per second Saturday at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longitude.

The Australian government agency coordinating the search would not immediately comment on the report.

In addition, a Chinese air force plane reportedly spotted white objects floating in the water near the search area, CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu reported.

The head of the joint agency coordination center issued the following statement:

“The characteristics reported are consistent with the aircraft black box. A number of white objects were also sighted on the surface about 90 kilometers from the detection area. However, there is no confirmation at this stage that the signals and the objects are related to the missing aircraft.”

Search crews are in a race against time to locate the plane’s black box. The batteries that power it could expire in a matter of days.

If the plane is not found before the battery in the black box dies, the next step could be to search the floor of the Indian Ocean, Hsu reported.

As the investigation into the plane’s disappearance continues, a possibility that must be considered is that one of the pilots committed suicide by deliberately crashing the plane.

Mike Glynn, a committee member of the Australian and International Pilots Association, told CBS News that he considers pilot suicide to be the most likely explanation for the disappearance, as was suspected in a SilkAir crash during a flight from Singapore to Jakarta in 1997 and an EgyptAir flight from Los Angeles to Cairo in 1999.

EgyptAir flight 990 was schedule to make a stop at JFK Airport before it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 217 people on board.

“A pilot rather than a hijacker is more likely to be able to switch off the communications equipment,” Glynn said. “The last thing that I, as a pilot, want is suspicion to fall on the crew, but it’s happened twice before.”

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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