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Search for missing Malaysian jetliner now spans unprecedented search area

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 02:01

March 18 - Focus is intensifying on pilots as Chinese officials say none of their citizens could have been involved in foul play. Jennifer Davis reports.

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Malaysian officials say a number of countries are now searching for the missing Malaysian jetliner over some 2.24 million square nautical miles. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN. DEFENCE MINISTER, SAYING: "This is an enormous search area and it is something that Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own." Two Australian Air Force aircraft are taking charge of the southern vector - zeroing in on an area roughly the size of Spain and Portugal that could several weeks to comb through. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN YOUNG, AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY, SAYING: "We are taking this search very seriously. I describe it as a possibility. The aircraft could have gone north or south and if it went south, this is Australia Maritime Safety's Authority's best estimate of where we should look with the few resources we have at our disposal for such a search." Investigators continue to focus on the pilots - amid a new report that the missing jet's path could have been altered by a computer system likely programmed by someone in the cockpit with significant aviation knowledge. But a friend of the captain is defending the Captain against allegations of sabotage. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETER CHONG, FRIEND OF CAPTAIN ZAHARIE AHMAD SHAH,, SAYING: "He a disciplined person who would follow the requirements so since 9/11 they are not even allowed to open the cockpit door even under duress so Captain Zaharie that I know would be the kind of person who would stick strictly to that." Chinese officials also say they've now ruled out the possibility that any passengers from their country could have been involved in a hijack. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) HUANG HUIKANG , CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO MALAYSIA SAYING: "So far, (China) has not found any evidence of 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 terrorist or jeopardizing activities." The jetliner has been missing since it vanished from civilian air traffic control screens March 8.

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Search for missing Malaysian jetliner now spans unprecedented search area

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 02:01