Malaysia has contacted countries involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines MH370: Minister

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has sent diplomatic notes to countries involved in the search and rescue operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a daily press conference on Monday.

He reiterated that Malaysia will not withhold any information that will help in the search but will not publicly release it until it is verified.

Malaysia has received response for information from half of the 12 to 14 countries it has contacted and has been cooperating with the FBI, Interpol and other authorities since day one, he said.

The number of countries involved in the search has now increased to 26, he added.

Search in both northern and southern corridors have begun, he said, with the southern corridor divided into two locations and Australia and Indonesia will lead the search in their own regions.

French officials have also joined the investigation team, he added.

"This new phase of the search is underway. Assets have been deployed," Mr Hishammuddin said.

The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner entered Day 10 on Monday and has become much more complex, with 26 countries now joining the search which spans 11 countries and a remote stretch of the Indian Ocean.

The search entered a dramatic new phase over the weekend after Prime Minister Najib Razak acknowledged for the first time that the plane was deliberately diverted, and that it could have gone as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia or southwards towards the Indian Ocean.

Mr Najib's revelation refocused attention on the background of the 239 passengers and crew, as well as ground staff.

Mr Hishammuddin revealed on Sunday that an internal communication system was turned off before someone in the cockpit said "All right, good night" to Malaysian air traffic control. This took place about 40 minutes after the plane took off.

Mr Hishammuddin added that no demands or ransom have been made which makes "it very difficult for us to verify whether it is a hijacking (or) terrorist act".

Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said the case is being probed under criminal laws on hijacking, sabotage and terrorism as well as for offences under aviation laws.

It was also revealed that the pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, did not ask to fly together on this flight.

Police have seized a homemade flight simulator from Capt Zaharie's home and are getting experts to analyse it.

It has also emerged that co-pilot Fariq has plans to marry a fellow pilot from another airline.

Reports said police are also investigating an aviation engineer who was among the passengers on the missing plane.

But the father of Mr Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat, who reportedly worked for a private jet charter company, refuted the possibility that his son would have anything to do with the plane's disappearance.