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Search for Missing Malaysian Plane Dramatically Expands

Malaysia says it is dramatically expanding the already vast scope of its search for a missing jetliner, as efforts continue to solve one of the most baffling mysteries in the history of modern aviation.

Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Friday unspecified "circumstances" forced the search to expand to the Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometers from the spot where the aircraft vanished from civilian radar last week. He said the search has also been expanded to remote parts of the South China Sea.

Hishammuddin offered no new information on the location of the Malaysia Airlines plane.

He also refused to comment on reports the plane kept sending automated electronic messages to communications satellites, hours after it vanished Saturday en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

On Thursday, U.S. officials said the satellites picked up faint signals known as pings. It is not clear whether the messages can provide information on the plane's location, or whether the plane was in the air at the time the messages were sent.



Hishammuddin said Malaysia is working with the U.S. to get any satellite information on the missing Boeing 777, but that it would be inappropriate "to publicly release information until it has been verified and corroborated."

He said 57 ships and 48 planes from 13 countries are involved in the search.

The initial search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 focused on the Gulf of Thailand, where the airliner was last seen on civilian radar. The Malaysian military has since said it may have tracked the plane hundreds of kilometers away, across the Malaysian peninsula in the Strait of Malacca.

Many of the family members of passengers on the plane are growing frustrated with what they feel is incomplete information from Malaysian authorities. A man who identified himself as Mr. Gao spoke with media Friday after meeting Malaysian officials in Beijing.



"Their (Malaysian) spokespeople should be responsible for what they are saying and keep their promises, instead of giving us the impression that it is a rogue state and that it just makes irresponsible remarks without thinking."



About two-thirds of the people on board were Chinese nationals, with the remainder from other Asian countries, Europe and North America.

Authorities have ruled nothing out in the plane's disappearance, including a massive technical failure, hijacking, an explosion, or the possibility the pilot wanted to commit suicide.

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