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Malaysia asks countries for data to help find jet

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Chinese relatives of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane walk out from a hotel room after attending a briefing by Malaysia Airlines in Beijing, China Sunday, March 16, 2014. Attention focused Sunday on the pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight after the country’s leader announced findings so far that suggest someone with intimate knowledge of the Boeing 777’s cockpit seized control of the plane and sent it off-course. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Chinese relatives of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane walk out from a hotel room after attending a briefing by Malaysia Airlines in Beijing, China Sunday, March 16, 2014. Attention focused Sunday on the pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight after the country’s leader announced findings so far that suggest someone with intimate knowledge of the Boeing 777’s cockpit seized control of the plane and sent it off-course. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Chinese relatives of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane walk out from a hotel room after attending a briefing by Malaysia Airlines in Beijing, China Sunday, March 16, 2014. Attention focused Sunday on the pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight after the country’s leader announced findings so far that suggest someone with intimate knowledge of the Boeing 777’s cockpit seized control of the plane and sent it off-course. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

A woman reads messages and well wishes to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. A Malaysian passenger jet missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about seven and a half hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or deep in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, Malaysia’s Minister for Transport Hishamuddin Hussein, left, and director general of the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, delivers a statement to the media regarding the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Saturday, March 15, 2014 in Sepang, Malaysia. Najib said Saturday that investigators believe the missing Malaysian airliner’s communications were deliberately disabled, that it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew for more than seven hours. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A police car comes out of a main gate of the missing Malaysia Airlines pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s house in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 15, 2014. Malaysian police have already said they are looking at the psychological state, the family life and connections of pilot Zaharie, 53, and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27. Both have been described as respectable, community-minded men. The Malaysian jetliner missing for more than a week had its communications deliberately disabled and its last signal came about 7 1/2 hours after takeoff, meaning it could have ended up as far as Kazakhstan or into the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Saturday. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s government on Sunday asked for help from nearly a dozen Asian countries that the missing jetliner may have flown over, saying that finding the plane would be very difficult without additional data on its final movements.

Meanwhile, police were examining a flight simulator belonging to one of the pilots of the Malaysia Airlines plane, which went missing more than a week ago with 239 passengers aboard a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The government said police searched the homes of both of the plane’s pilots on Saturday, the first time they have done so since the plane went missing. Asked why it took them so long, police chief Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar said authorities “didn’t see the necessity in the early stages.”

Bakar told reporters that he had requested countries with citizens on board the plane to investigate their background. He said that the intelligence agencies of some countries had already done this and found nothing suspicious, but that he was waiting for others to respond.

Satellite data has shown that after losing contact with air traffic controllers, the plane could have kept flying as far north as Kazakhstan in Central Asia or deep into the southern Indian Ocean, posing awesome challenges for efforts to recover the aircraft and flight data recorders vital to solving the mystery of what happened on board. That has left authorities desperate to narrow down a search area now stretching across 11 nations and one of the most remote oceans in the world.

“The search was already a highly complex, multinational effort. It has now become even more difficult,” Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference Sunday.

“It is our hope with the new information, parties that can come forward and narrow the search to an area that is more feasible,” he said, adding that the search effort now includes 25 countries.

“The search area has been significantly expanded. And the nature of the search has changed. From focusing mainly on shallow seas, we are now looking at large tracts of land, crossing 11 countries, as well as deep and remote oceans,” Hishammuddin said.

He said the number of countries involved in the search and rescue operation had increased from 14 to 25, bringing “new challenges of co-ordination and diplomacy to the search effort.”

Australia said it was sending one of its two AP-3C Orion aircraft involved in the search to the remote islands in the Indian Ocean at Malaysia’s request. The plane will search the north and west of the Cocos Islands, a remote Australian territory with an airstrip about 1200 kilometers (745 miles) southwest of Indonesia, military chief Gen. David Hurley said.

Given that the northern route the plane may have taken would take it over countries with busy airspace, most experts say the person in control of the aircraft would more likely have chosen the southern route. The

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