Number of countries involved in search for MH370 increased from 14 to 25

KUALA LUMPUR - The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is now in a deep and remote ocean and the number of countries involved has increased from 14 to 25, said Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein on Sunday.

Malaysia is asking US, China, France for satellite data in the hunt for the missing plane, Mr Hishammuddin said, as he said the search has become "even more difficult".

"The number of countries involved in the search and rescue operation has increased from 14 to 25, which brings new challenges of coordination and diplomacy to the search effort,” he said at a daily press conference.

The search for the missing plane entered a dramatic new phase on Saturday 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.

The revelation refocused attention on the background of the 239 passengers and crew, while sparking both outrage and relief among anxious family members in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

The government said earlier on Sunday that police had searched the homes of the two pilots of the missing plane and were examining the captain's home flight simulator, but cautioned it was "normal" procedure.

"Police searched the home of the pilot on Saturday, 15 March," a statement by the transport ministry said.

"Officers spoke to family members of the pilot and experts are examining the pilot's flight simulator. On 15 March, the police also searched the home of the co-pilot."

Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, went missing near the South China Sea early on March 8.

Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand have ended their search for MH370 in the South China Sea while India on Sunday suspended its search around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and in the Bay of Bengal.