News / Asia

Search for Malaysian Plane Now Covers 4 Million Square Kilometers

  • Mike Barton, rescue coordination chief, right, shows Australia's Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, the map of the Indian Ocean search areas during a tour of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's rescue coordination center in Canberra, March 23, 2014.
  • Royal Australian Air Force pilot Capt. Russell Adams, left, speaks to the media after returning from a search mission in an AP-3C Orion at Pearce Base, Perth, Australia, March 23, 2014.
  • Ground crew members wave to a Japanese Maritime Defense Force P3C patrol plane as it leaves the Royal Malaysian Air Force base heading for Australia to join a search and rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Subang, Malaysia, March 23, 2014.
  • Royal Australian Air Force commander Craig Heap speaks to the media after Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's P-3C Orion arrived to help with search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, at Pearce Base in Perth, Australia, March 23, 2014.
  • Royal Australian Air Force Loadmasters prepare to launch a Self Locating Data Marker Buoy from a C-130J Hercules aircraft over the southern Indian Ocean, March 20, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE/LEADING SEAMAN JUSTIN BROWN)
  • John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, answers a question as he stands in front of a diagram showing the search area for flight MH370 during a briefing in Canberra, March 20, 2014.
  • A Royal Australian Air Force pilot steers his AP-3C Orion over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in this picture released by the Australian Defense Force, March 20, 2014.
  • A Chinese family member of a passenger onboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 screams as she is being brought into a room outside the media conference area at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, March 19, 2014.
  • An image in support of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is seen on the United Malays National Organisation building in Kuala Lumpur, March 19, 2014.
  • Students watch as a group of artists finish a piece based on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that was painted on a school ground in Makati city, metro Manila, Philippines, March 17, 2014.
The Search for MH 370
VOA News
Malaysian authorities say the search for a missing airliner has been expanded to cover over four million square kilometers.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also Tuesday called for more international cooperation in helping narrow the search.

Authorities believe the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted and flew either north toward Central Asia or south toward the Indian Ocean.

Over 26 nations are involved in the effort to find the jet, which disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Authorities have refused to rule out any possibility, including terrorism, hijacking, or a mechanical malfunction.

​Beijing on Tuesday said none of the plane's 154 Chinese passengers appear to have links to terrorism or hijacking.

Huang Huikang, China's ambassador to Malaysia, said extensive background checks were completed on the passengers from the mainland. "China has conducted a thorough investigation on the background [of Chinese passengers aboard]. So far, [China] has not found any actions that jeopardized Malaysia Airlines MH 370 flight. So we can rule out the possibilities of Chinese passengers suspected of being involved in any kind of terror or jeopardizing activities," he said.

The ambassador also said China has begun looking for the aircraft "in the territory along the northern corridor" of the search area.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting the plane's intended route appears to have been altered by a computer system mostly likely programmed by someone in the cockpit with knowledge of advanced aircraft systems.

Speaking anonymously, U.S. officials told the Times the development reinforces the theory that foul play is involved and will likely increase scrutiny of the plane's pilot and co-pilot.

The search has been complicated because the plane's transponder, which identifies it to civilian radar, and other communications devices were disabled or shut off. Authorities are now forced to rely on imprecise satellite tracking data based on automated messages from the aircraft.

The search area is now so extensive that the U.S. on Monday called back the USS Kidd, a naval destroyer that had been looking for the plane in the Indian Ocean. U.S. officials say it makes more sense to look for the jet using long-range surveillance aircraft.

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