Malaysia Airlines co-pilot spoke last words

Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds satellite images as he speaks about the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 26.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds satellite images as he speaks about the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 26.
A satellite photo, showing the locations and co-ordinates of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
A satellite photo, showing the locations and co-ordinates of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
A satellite photo, showing the location of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
A satellite photo, showing the location of unknown objects reported by the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA) in the Indian Ocean. The images were taken on March 23 and released on March 26.
Solid matter is pictured floating in the southern Indian Ocean seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
Solid matter is pictured floating in the southern Indian Ocean seen from a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft searching for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
INDIAN OCEAN - This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the planned search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 24, 2014.
INDIAN OCEAN - This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the planned search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 24, 2014.
A still image taken from video shows an image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean by the Gaofen-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite of CNSA.
A still image taken from video shows an image of an object spotted in the southern Indian Ocean by the Gaofen-1 high-resolution optical Earth observation satellite of CNSA.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds up a note that he has just received on a new lead in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 22, 2014.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein holds up a note that he has just received on a new lead in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, during a news conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 22, 2014.
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their fists as they shout "return our families" to protest against the lack of new information after a routine briefing given by Malaysia's government and military representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 22, 2014.
Family members of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 raise their fists as they shout "return our families" to protest against the lack of new information after a routine briefing given by Malaysia's government and military representatives at Lido Hotel in Beijing March 22, 2014.
Map of the southern Indian Ocean locating site where a satellite may have found debris related to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; includes satellite images of possible debris. MCT
Map of the southern Indian Ocean locating site where a satellite may have found debris related to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370; includes satellite images of possible debris. MCT
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
Satellite photos from March 20 show the objects "possibly associated" with the search for the missing plane. The images were released hours after Australia announced it had "credible" leads in the search for flight MH370.
A crew member aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion uses binoculars as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 22, 2014.
A crew member aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion uses binoculars as it flies over the southern Indian Ocean during the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 March 22, 2014.
Pilot Dave Smith (R) gives a pre-flight briefing aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft before taking off to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at RAAF base Pearce near Perth, March 22, 2014.
Pilot Dave Smith (R) gives a pre-flight briefing aboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft before taking off to search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at RAAF base Pearce near Perth, March 22, 2014.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney are seen en transit in the Pacific Ocean in this US Navy picture taken May 18, 2011.  Kidd and Pinkney have been searching for the missing Malaysian airliner and are being re-deployed to the Strait of Malacca off Malaysia's west coast as new search areas are opened in the Indian Ocean.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney are seen en transit in the Pacific Ocean in this US Navy picture taken May 18, 2011. Kidd and Pinkney have been searching for the missing Malaysian airliner and are being re-deployed to the Strait of Malacca off Malaysia's west coast as new search areas are opened in the Indian Ocean.
A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
A crew member from the Royal Malaysian Air Force looks through the window of a Malaysian Air Force CN235 aircraft during a Search and Rescue operation to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 covers her face as she cries after a routine briefing given by Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 22, 2014.
A family member of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 covers her face as she cries after a routine briefing given by Malaysia Airlines at Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 22, 2014.
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Selamat Omar shows a picture of his son, flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
A woman writes another message of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
A woman writes another message of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
A girl reads some of the messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
A girl reads some of the messages of hope and support for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 at a mall outside Kuala Lumpur March 22, 2014.
A woman writes on a banner of well wishes for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 14, 2014.
A woman writes on a banner of well wishes for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 14, 2014.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (bottom C) takes part in a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque in Putrajaya March 21, 2014.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (bottom C) takes part in a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin mosque in Putrajaya March 21, 2014.
A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he watches a message board dedicated to passengers.
A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he watches a message board dedicated to passengers.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing plane.
Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing plane.
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers who were travelling onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 watch a television displaying a Malaysian press conference at Lido Hotel in Beijing.
Chinese relatives of the missing passengers who were travelling onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 watch a television displaying a Malaysian press conference at Lido Hotel in Beijing.
Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork at a school in Makati city, metro Manila. According to the artists, the artwork is their way of expressing sympathy towards the relatives of passengers onboard the missing Boeing 777-200ER.
Students watch as a group of artists put the finishing touches to a three dimensional artwork at a school in Makati city, metro Manila. According to the artists, the artwork is their way of expressing sympathy towards the relatives of passengers onboard the missing Boeing 777-200ER.
Students from an international school in east China city Zhuji pray for the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Students from an international school in east China city Zhuji pray for the passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
 A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel.
A relative of a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 answers media questions at Lido Hotel.
An object sits in the water in satellite imagery released by China.
An object sits in the water in satellite imagery released by China.
Clouds hover outside the window of a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft An-26 on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Vietnam's Tho Chu island.
Clouds hover outside the window of a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft An-26 on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Vietnam's Tho Chu island.
The zone where the mystery objects were found.
The zone where the mystery objects were found.
What appears to be fuel sits on the water in the area where three large objects were found.
What appears to be fuel sits on the water in the area where three large objects were found.
Malaysia's police chief, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, addresses a news conference.
Malaysia's police chief, Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar, addresses a news conference.
 Satellite images reveal a possible crash site for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, where three large objects were seen in the water.
Satellite images reveal a possible crash site for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, where three large objects were seen in the water.
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
A charity worker comforts an emotional relative of a passenger.
A charity worker comforts an emotional relative of a passenger.
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search.
Military personnel look out of a Singapore Air Force plane during the search.
A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane.
A combination photo shows two men whom police said were travelling on stolen passports onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane.
A Chinese relative of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines MH370 is comforted by a staff member of the airport as she shields her face from journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
A Chinese relative of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines MH370 is comforted by a staff member of the airport as she shields her face from journalists at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

People believed to be relatives of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are escorted to the VIP section of the Beijing Capital International Airport prior to flying to Kuala Lumpur.
People believed to be relatives of passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are escorted to the VIP section of the Beijing Capital International Airport prior to flying to Kuala Lumpur.
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waits for news at Lido Hotel on March 10, in Beijing, China. Investigative teams continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 293 passengers that were travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
A family member of a passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waits for news at Lido Hotel on March 10, in Beijing, China. Investigative teams continue to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the 293 passengers that were travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, in Kuala Lumpur.
Dato' Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation briefs the media over latest updates on missing Malaysia Airline MH370 on March 10, in Kuala Lumpur.
An officer looks out of a helicopter during a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, near Tho Chu Island.
An officer looks out of a helicopter during a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, near Tho Chu Island.
A map of a flight plan is seen on a computer screen during a meeting before a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, at Phu Quoc Airport.
A map of a flight plan is seen on a computer screen during a meeting before a mission to find the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of Saturday, at Phu Quoc Airport.
A woman stands in front of a giant screen showing the number hours since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing, in Beijing on March 10.
A woman stands in front of a giant screen showing the number hours since Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing, in Beijing on March 10.
Relatives of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry inside a hotel they are staying, in Putrajaya. China has urged Malaysia to step up the search for the jetliner that went missing with 239 people on board, about two-thirds of them Chinese, and said it has sent security agents to help with an investigation into the misuse of passports.
Relatives of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cry inside a hotel they are staying, in Putrajaya. China has urged Malaysia to step up the search for the jetliner that went missing with 239 people on board, about two-thirds of them Chinese, and said it has sent security agents to help with an investigation into the misuse of passports.
Journalists place their recorders as they get ready for the first briefing of the day at a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10.
Journalists place their recorders as they get ready for the first briefing of the day at a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on March 10.
Life vests and lifesavers are seen onboard a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Tho Chu island.
Life vests and lifesavers are seen onboard a Vietnam Air Force search and rescue aircraft on a mission to find the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, off Tho Chu island.
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik applies the final touches to a sand art sculpture he created wishing for the well being of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik applies the final touches to a sand art sculpture he created wishing for the well being of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, on a beach in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
A relative (left) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is escorted by a caregiver from Malaysia Airlines as they walk in a corridor at a hotel in Beijing.
A relative (left) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is escorted by a caregiver from Malaysia Airlines as they walk in a corridor at a hotel in Beijing.
Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, Director General of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, looks at a radar screen while searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the South China Sea.
Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, Director General of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, looks at a radar screen while searching for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the South China Sea.
A view of oil slicks (pale line near the bottom right) spotted in an area of the South China Sea about 100 nautical miles (185 km) from Tok Bali Beach in Malaysia's Kelantan state.
A view of oil slicks (pale line near the bottom right) spotted in an area of the South China Sea about 100 nautical miles (185 km) from Tok Bali Beach in Malaysia's Kelantan state.
An aerial view of an oil spill is seen from a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft in the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, 250 km from Vietnam and 190 km from Malaysia, in this handout photo from Thanh Nien Newpaper taken on March 8.
An aerial view of an oil spill is seen from a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft in the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, 250 km from Vietnam and 190 km from Malaysia, in this handout photo from Thanh Nien Newpaper taken on March 8.
Volunteer rescue workers and religious organisations pray during multi-religion mass prayers for the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
Volunteer rescue workers and religious organisations pray during multi-religion mass prayers for the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
Vietnamese Air Force officers sit in the cockpit of a search and rescue aircraft as they fly over the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
Vietnamese Air Force officers sit in the cockpit of a search and rescue aircraft as they fly over the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
Malaysia Airlines Commercial Director Hugh Dunleavy (centre) speaks to journalists about information of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Malaysia Airlines Commercial Director Hugh Dunleavy (centre) speaks to journalists about information of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
A relative (front) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she walks past journalists at a hotel in Beijing March 9, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday.
A relative (front) of a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she walks past journalists at a hotel in Beijing March 9, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew was presumed to have crashed off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday.
Journalists attempt to interview a woman who is the relative of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as she crouches on the floor crying, at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
Journalists attempt to interview a woman who is the relative of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, as she crouches on the floor crying, at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the airline said in a statement.
The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the airline said in a statement.
A spokesman (centre) of Malaysia Airlines is surrounded by journalists as he gives a briefing about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing March 8, 2014.
A spokesman (centre) of Malaysia Airlines is surrounded by journalists as he gives a briefing about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing March 8, 2014.
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014.
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport on March 8, 2014.

Officials have revealed a new timeline suggesting the final voice transmission from the cockpit of the missing Malaysian plane may have occurred before any of its communications systems were disabled.

The latest information adds more uncertainty about who aboard might have been to blame.

No trace of the Beijing-bound Boeing 777 has been found since it vanished about an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8 with 227 passengers, including two New Zealanders, and 12 crew aboard.

MH370 MYSTERY: Explaining the missing Malaysia Airlines jet mystery, as it stands. | 
<b><a target=_blank href="http://static.stuff.co.nz/files/MH370graphic17.jpg">Click here for full-size graphic</a></b>
MH370 MYSTERY: Explaining the missing Malaysia Airlines jet mystery, as it stands. | <b><a target=_blank href="http://static.stuff.co.nz/files/MH370graphic17.jpg">Click here for full-size graphic</a></b>

The search has now been expanded deep into the northern and southern hemispheres. Australian vessels scoured the southern Indian Ocean and China offered 21 of its satellites to help Malaysia in the unprecedented hunt.

With no wreckage found in one of the most puzzling aviation mysteries of all time, relatives of those on the Boeing 777 have been left in an agonising limbo.

Investigators say the plane was deliberately diverted during its overnight flight and flew off-course for hours. They haven't ruled out hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide, and they are checking the backgrounds of the passengers and crew members, as well as the ground crew, to see if links to terrorists, personal problems or psychological issues could be factors.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said finding the plane was still the main focus and he did not rule out that it might be discovered intact.

"The fact that there was no distress signal, no ransom notes, no parties claiming responsibility, there is always hope," Hishammuddin said at a news conference.

Malaysian Airlines chief executive  Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said an initial investigation indicated that the last words heard from the plane by ground controllers - "All right, good night" - were spoken by the co-pilot, Fariq Abdul Hamid. Had it been a voice other than that of Fariq or the pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, it would have clearest indication yet of something amiss in the cockpit before the flight went off-course.

Malaysian officials said earlier that those words came after one of the jetliner's data communications systems - the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) - had been switched off, suggesting the voice from the cockpit may have been trying to deceive ground controllers.

However, Amhad said that while the last data transmission from ACARS - which gives plane performance and maintenance information - came before that, it was still unclear at what point the system was switched off, making any implications of the timing murkier.

The new information opened the possibility that both ACARS and the plane's transponders, which make the plane visible to civilian air traffic controllers, were turned off at about the same time. It also suggests that the message delivered from the cockpit could have preceded any of the severed communications.

Authorities confiscated a flight simulator from the pilot's home on  Saturday and also visited the home of the co-pilot in what Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar initially said was the first police visits to those homes.

But the government, which has come under criticism abroad for missteps and foot-dragging in releasing information, issued a statement Monday contradicting that account, saying police first visited the pilots' homes as early as March 9, the day after the flight disappeared.

Although Malaysian authorities requested that all nations with citizens aboard the flight conduct background checks on them, it wasn't clear how thoroughly they were doing such checks at home. The father of a Malaysian aviation engineer aboard the plane said police had not approached anyone in the family about his 29-year-old son, Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat, though he added that there was no reason to suspect him.

"It is impossible for him to be involved in something like this," said Selamat Omar, 60. "He is a good boy. ... We are keeping our hopes high. I am praying hard that the plane didn't crash and that he will be back soon."

French investigators arriving in Kuala Lumpur to lend expertise from the two-year search for an Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 said they were able to rely on distress signals. But that vital tool is missing in the Malaysia Airlines mystery because the flight's communications were deliberately silenced ahead of its disappearance, investigators say.

"It's very different from the Air France case. The Malaysian situation is much more difficult," said Jean Paul Troadec, a special adviser to France's aviation accident investigation bureau.

Malaysia's government sent diplomatic cables to all countries in the search area, seeking more planes and ships for the search, as well as to ask for any radar data that might help.

The search involves 26 countries and initially focused on seas on either side of Peninsular Malaysia, in the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Najib Razak said investigators determined that a satellite picked up a faint signal from the aircraft about 7 hours after takeoff. The signal indicated the plane would have been somewhere on a vast arc stretching from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Hishammuddin said on Monday that searches in both the northern and southern stretches of the arc had begun, and that countries from Australia to China in the north and Kazakhstan in the west had joined the hunt.

Had the plane gone northwest to Central Asia, it would have crossed over countries with busy airspace, and some experts believe it more likely would have gone south, although Malaysian authorities are not ruling out the northern corridor and are eager for radar data that might confirm or rule out that route.

The northern corridor crosses through countries including China, India and Pakistan - all of which have said they have seen no sign of the plane. China, where two-thirds of the passengers were from, is providing several planes and 21 satellites for the search, Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement.

"Factors involved in the incident continue to multiply, the area of search-and-rescue continues to broaden, and the level of difficulty increases, but as long as there is one thread of hope, we will continue an all-out effort," Li said.

Indonesia focused on Indian Ocean waters west of Sumatra, air force spokesman Rear Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto said.

Australia agreed to Malaysia's request to take the lead in searching the southern Indian Ocean with four Orion maritime planes that also would be joined by New Zealand and US aircraft, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

"Australia will do its duty in this matter," Abbott told Parliament. "We will do our duty to the families of the 239 people on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence, and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery."

New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said the country was committed to the search for MH370.

"At the request of Malaysia, New Zealand's RNZAF P3 Orion will today relocate to the Royal Australian Air Force base Pearce, north of Perth, to join Australian, US and Chinese aircraft in the search effort of the southern corridor area."

He said the air force's upgraded Orion was well-suited  for the search. "It has state of the art sensors, can fly at low levels and remain airborne for more than 12 hours."

The southern Indian Ocean is the world's third-deepest and one of the most remote stretches of water, with little radar coverage.

AP