By Keith Laing - 03/11/14 09:51 AM EDT
The search for a Malaysia Airlines flight that has been missing since Friday evening widened on Tuesday as it entered its fourth day, officials with the company said.
Officials who have been looking for remnants of the missing plane are expanding their beyond the over-water area where the airplane was last detected by air traffic controllers.
The search is now being expanded to land areas closer to the airplane’s point of origin, Kuala Lumpur, the company said.
The missing Malaysia Air flight was a Boeing 777 that was being operated from Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, China. The airplane was carrying 239 passengers, including three that state department officials have confirmed were American citizens.
The disappearance of the jetliner has stoked terrorism fears because air traffic controllers have reported that the airplane did not send any of the distress signals that would be normal if the flight was experiencing mechanical difficulty.
Aviation experts have said it is rare for an airplane to disappear without remnants of a crash being discovered for multiple days.
Malaysia Air said Tuesday that it is conducting an extensive search for the missing plane.
“The mission is aided by various countries namely Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and the United States of America. The assets deployed to cover the search and rescue is extensive,” the company said. “In total there are nine aircraft and 24 vessels deployed on this mission. Apart from the search in the sea, search on land in between these areas is also conducted.”
The U.S. has sent officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Department of Defense to the search area for the missing airplane.