KualaLumpur (Malaysia): The case of the missing Malaysian jet is turning more and more mysterious with each passing day with the serach on Monday expanding to both the northern and southern hemispheres with Australia taking the lead in scouring the seas of the southern Indian Ocean and Kazakhstan -- about 10,000 miles to the northwest -- answering Malaysia's call for help in the unprecedented hunt.
A detailed map of the northern and southern corridors where the search operations were on was released on Monday.
Malaysia got in touch with countries along the northern and southern corridors about the flight. These countries include: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and France.
Cambodian residents of a community light candles as they pray for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at their village in Phnom Penh on Monday. An investigation into the pilots of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 intensified on March 17 after officials confirmed that the last words spoken from the cockpit came after a key signalling system was manually disabled. Pic/AFP
Australia was leading the search of the remote southern Indian Ocean for the missing plane. Kazakhstan joined the search today in the farthest northwest section of the search area, taking the total number of countries involved in the operation to 26.
Australia's initiative in heading the search operations in the southern vector was announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who referred to the disappearance of the plane as an "unfathomed mystery".
Abbott said he has not received any information about whether the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on board may have travelled south towards Australia.
With investigators searching for the plane, two possible corridors for search operations have been identified after it emerged its transponders were deliberately turned off and satellite data showed it flew for almost seven hours after veering off course in the Gulf of Thailand.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib last week said authorities are trying to trace the plane across two possible corridors - in the north to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and a southern corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Abbott said he had recently spoken with Najib. "He asked that Australia take responsibility for the search in the southern vector, which the Malaysian authorities now think was one possible flight path for this ill-fated aircraft," Abbott was quoted saying by Sky News.
Malaysian government has also accepted an offer of using additional Australian maritime surveillance resources.
The countries' defence chiefs have also been in contact to determine Australia's role, Abbott said. "Australia will do its duty in this matter...to ensure that our search and rescue responsibilities are maintained and upheld," he said.
Abbott said Australia will work with assets from a number of other countries, including surveillance aircraft from New Zealand and the US.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority will take the lead in coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean supported by the Australian Defence Force and other contributing agencies, media reports said.
Meanwhile, rubbishing US media reports suggesting the missing plane was taken to Pakistan, Islamabad on Sunday said its radar network had no information about the aircraft, but the country was ready to share any information if it is available, Xinhua reported.
The comments came from the Pakistani foreign ministry after Malaysian government asked 26 countries, including Pakistan, for assistance as the search for the missing jetliner continued Sunday.
"No information about the Malaysian plane is available at our radar as it has not entered our (air) space," the ministry's spokesperson, Tasnim Aslam, told media in response to Malaysian government's request. "Our radar system has no information about the Malaysian aircraft as it has never contacted our control tower."
The Pakistani spokesperson also dismissed US media reports that the missing aircraft might have been taken to Pakistan.
"They (the US media) are losing their credibility by publishing such stories," she said, adding that Malaysian authorities have not only sought Pakistan's help but also more than 20 countries.
The current general enquiry number +603 7884 1234 for the MH370 incident will change effective from March 17, 2014 at 12.00 noon.
Moving forward, families of passengers and crew of MH370 may call +603 8777 5770. This is a dedicated number for families only.