Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein have spoken highly of assistance that other countries have given to Malaysia in the ongoing search for the missing jetliner.

At a press conference on March 18, Anifah said Malaysia has sent diplomatic notes to 25 countries seeking assistance in the search, including 12 countries in the northern corridor of the search operation and two countries in the southern corridor. These corridors are identified as the plane's likely path based on satellite data. T hese countries have to date participated in the operation.

He briefed that the Malaysian Prime Minister discussed the search with the Presidents of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well as the Prime Ministers of India, Bangladesh, Australia, Vietnam and China over the phone.

Countries which do not come within the two corridors have also come forward to assist in the operation, including the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, Anifah added.

Meanwhile, the Acting Transport Minister said the operation is focusing on gathering information from satellite surveillance, analysing surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts.

He said the search area has been expanded to 2.24 million square nautical miles (about 7.68 million square kilometres). The northern and southern search corridors are each divided into seven quadrants, with each quadrant covering 160,000 square nautical miles.

This is an enormous search area, and Malaysia cannot possibly search on its own, he added.

On March 18, the Royal Malaysian Navy deployed two more ships to the southern corridor, bringing the total number of Malaysian ships to four, with two Super Lynx helicopters also involved. The country also sent two more C-130 aircrafts to the search area of Indonesia.

On the same day, t he Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Australia has begun its search operation in an area of 600,000 square kilometers off Western Australian coast.-VNA