1152 168 4 LINKEDIN 49 COMMENTMORE

As the number of countries aiding the massive international hunt for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 swelled to 26 on Monday, a U.S. warship reportedly ended its search of the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed American officials, that the plane's turn to the west, diverting from its scheduled flightpath, was likely programmed into its computer controls by someone in the cockpit rather than a manual operation of the plane's controls. That was seen as one more piece of evidence suggesting the plane was intentionally diverted and increasing investigators' scrutiny of the pilots, the newspaper said.

Pentagon officials told news organizations that the USS Kidd, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will end its six-day search and resume normal duties with the 7th Fleet.

Officials said that as the search area has expanded, long-range aircraft are better suited for trying to locate the missing Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard. Navy P-3 and P-8 aircraft will continue searching for any sign of the jet; they can cover up to 15,000 square miles in nine hours.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein held hope that they would be found alive. He said 10 days into the investigation, nothing had been ruled out, including hijacking, sabotage, pilot suicide or mass murder.

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

The unprecedented hunt is taking place as preliminary investigations revealed that the plane's co-pilot apparently spoke the last words to air-traffic controllers.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the co-pilot of the plane was probably the person who calmly said, "All right, good night."

Officials previously have said that those words came at a point in the March 8 flight when one of the jet's data communications systems already had been switched off. Ahmad, however, said Monday that the last communication from the system came minutes before the words were spoken, but that it was not clear if the system was turned off before or after the words were spoken.

The timing of the last words sharpened suspicions that one or both of the pilots may have been involved in the plane's disappearance.

FLIGHT 370 : Missing jet's pilot was opposition 'political activist'

International investigators arrive in Malaysia to help in the hunt for airliner missing for more than a week with 239 passengers and crew. Paul Chapman reports Video provided by Reuters Newslook

The development comes as the search-and-rescue mission has been extended to what officials are calling two "corridors" that the plane may have flown from its last known position. One is an arc north toward central Asia, the other is an arc south toward the southern Indian Ocean and Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament that he agreed to take the lead scouring the southern Indian Ocean for the "ill-fated aircraft" during a conversation Monday with Malaysia's leader.

"Australia will do its duty in this matter," Abbott told parliament. "We will do our duty to the families (of the 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers) on that aircraft who are still absolutely devastated by their absence, and who are still profoundly, profoundly saddened by this as yet unfathomed mystery."

Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Contributing: John Bacon; Associated Press

1152 168 4 LINKEDIN 49 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1iV5S5o