Missing plane: Search widens to Malaysia west coast

Chinese relatives of passengers tell the BBC they are holding on to hope

Authorities searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane have widened their search, amid increasing frustration from passengers' families.

Search teams had expanded their scope to the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia Airlines said.

The authorities are looking at a possibility of an attempt made by MH370 to turn back to Subang.

The Beijing-bound flight vanished on Saturday shortly after it left Kuala Lumpur. There were 239 people on board.

Authorities are also investigating two men who boarded the missing plane on Italian and Austrian passports stolen in Thailand years ago.

Malaysian police said one of the two had been identified as a 19-year-old Iranian man who they believe was hoping to settle in Germany and was not likely to belong to a terrorist group.

Experts say the presence of two passengers with stolen passports is a breach of security, but is relatively common in the region and could relate to illegal migration.

In a statement, Malaysia Airlines said: "The search and rescue teams have expanded the scope beyond the flight path.

"All angles are being looked at. We are not ruling out any possibilities.

"Apart from the search in the sea, search on land in between these areas is also conducted," the airline added.

Rescue teams from several countries are scouring the seas for signs of the plane.

Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said that the search was continuing "on both sides" of the peninsula.

Malaysian authorities said late on Monday they were expanding the search area from 50 nautical miles from where the plane had disappeared - over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam - to 100 nautical miles (115 miles; 185km).

Indonesian Navy pilots during a search operation for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 over the waters bordering Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand near the Malacca straits on 10 March 2014 The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has entered its fourth day
A relative of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane waits for news at a hotel in Beijing on 11 March 2014 Relatives in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have been waiting anxiously for news
People hold a banner and candles during a candlelight vigil for passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 10 March 2014 On Monday, a vigil for the passengers was held in Kuala Lumpur

China's Xi'an Satellite Control Centre launched an emergency response and adjusted the operations of up to 10 orbiting satellites to help in the search, a website run by the People's Liberation Army said late on Monday.

Meanwhile, Boeing said that it had joined the US National Transportation Safety Board team as a technical adviser. The team has positioned a group of investigators and technical advisers in Asia to offer assistance.

Candlelight vigil

At least 40 ships and 34 aircraft are taking part in the search in the seas off Vietnam and Malaysia.

Search and rescue teams from Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United States of America are assisting, Malaysia Airlines said.

On Monday, people gathered in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to hold a candlelight vigil for the missing passengers.

Families in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have expressed frustration at the lack of information about the plane's fate.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing at 00:41 local time on Saturday (16:41 GMT on Friday). But radio contact was lost at 17:30 GMT, somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Officials say they still have no idea what went wrong.

None of the debris and oil slicks spotted in the water so far have proven to be linked to the disappearance.

The passengers on the flight were of 14 different nationalities. Two-thirds were from China, while others were from elsewhere in Asia, North America and Europe.

Malaysia Airlines is the country's national carrier, flying nearly 37,000 passengers daily to some 80 destinations worldwide.

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