Search for missing Malaysian jet intensifies

China deploys 10 satellites to help track down Malaysia Airlines jet as hunt for missing aircraft enters its fourth day.

Crews from nine countries have joined the international search effort.
Crews from nine countries have joined the international search effort.

The search area for the missing Malaysian jetliner has expanded with the airline saying the western coast of Malaysia is now the focus of the hunt that is now entering its fourth day.

That is on the other side of the country from where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was reported missing.

The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on Saturday shortly after it left Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 people on board.

In a statement on Tuesday the company said the hunt had expanded beyond the flight path, and the "focus is on the West Peninsular of Malaysia at the Straits of Malacca."

Civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said search teams would continue to look in both areas, the Associated Press news agency reported.

In the days since the dissapearence, there have been repeated reports of oil slicks being found and possible debris sightings, only for all of them to be later ruled out.

It was announced on Tuesday by Chinese state media that Beijing is deploying about 10 satellites in hopes of tracking down the missing plane.

The high-resolution satellites, which are controlled from the Xian Satellite Control Centre in northern China, will be used for navigation, weather monitoring, communications and other aspects of the search-and-rescue effort, the PLA Daily newspaper reported.

Nearly two-thirds of the 239 people aboard flight MH370 were from China, and if the loss of the aircraft is confirmed, it would be China's second-worst ever air disaster.

Crews from nine countries - China, Malaysia, the United States, Singapore, Vietnam, New Zealand, Indonesia, Australia and Thailand - have joined the international search effort.

The widened search comes after families of passengers reported hearing ringing tones when they tried their relative's mobile phones - leading to speculation that the plane could be on land.

Meanwhile, a man travelling on a stolen passport on the missing jet was a young Iranian who is not believed to have terrorist links, Malaysian police said.

It is thought the 19-year-old was travelling to Germany where he was hoping to seek asylum, they said.

Search teams have expanded their scope to the Straits of Malacca.

The young Iranian was one of two passengers travelling on stolen passports on board the flight.

Experts have said their presence a breach of security, but is relatively common in the region regarded as a hub for illegal migration.

Malaysia's police chief Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar said the young Iranian was "not likely to be a member of a terrorist group", adding that the authorities were in contact with his mother in Germany, who had been expecting her son to arrive in the city of Frankfurt.