By Keith Laing - 03/12/14 04:38 PM EDT
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined Wednesday to join criticism of Malaysia's search for a missing jet.
Malaysian officials have come under fire in the aviation industry for issuing conflicting reports about the last known whereabouts of the airplane, which was carrying 239 passengers at the time of its disappearance.
Carney said it was "too early" to evaluate the circumstances that led to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 vanishing.
Aviation officials in Malaysia said initially that the missing airplane, a Boeing 777, was last spotted by air traffic controllers about an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing while flying over the Gulf of Thailand.
Reports later emerged that the flight may have turned back toward Malaysia and ventured more than 100 miles off course as officials expanded their search for remnants of the plane to the Straits of Malacca.
Carney said Wednesday that “the Malaysian government is investigating a number of possible scenarios for what happened to the flight.
Carney said that “the Malaysian government, of course, has the lead in this investigation.” But he added that “U.S. air safety officials are in Kuala Lumpur working closely with the Malaysian government on the investigation.
“I can remind you, if you need to know, of the assets that we've sent to the region, including aircraft and helicopters and two destroyers that are part of the effort, the search underway,” Carney said. “But when it comes to conclusions from that investigation, it's too early to draw any, in our view.”
The White House has said that officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, and Department of Defense have been sent to Southeast Asia to assist with the search.
The disappearance of the flight, which was last seen Friday, has stoked fears about the possibility of terrorism.
Malaysian officials have confirmed that two of the passengers who were on-board the plane when it took off were traveling on passports that were stolen. However, the country has said that it does not believe the stolen passports were a factor in the plane’s disappearance.
Relatives of passengers who were on the plane have criticized Malaysia Airlines for its handling of the flight’s disappearance, arguing that the airline is offering conflicting information about the incident.
The State Department has confirmed that at least three of the passengers who were on board the flight were American citizens.