US & Canada

White House says FBI 'aiding MH370 investigation'

A man watches a large screen showing different flights at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport 13 March 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Teams from 26 countries are trying to find flight MH370

The FBI is aiding the Malaysian government's search for a Malaysia Airlines jet missing for more than a week.

The US investigators are believed to be helping the Malaysians examine a home flight simulator belonging to one of the pilots of flight MH370 for clues.

The pilot is said to have deleted some files from the computer simulator.

Teams from 26 countries are trying to find flight MH370, which went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board.

The flight was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

US-Malaysia co-operation

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Media captionRelatives were forcibly removed while trying to speak to journalists

The FBI, through its legal office in Kuala Lumpur, "continues to engage with appropriate Malaysian authorities and provide support where necessary to the Malaysian government in their investigation of the missing aircraft", according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

The agency would not comment on the specifics of its investigation, nor what had been communicated to its investigators by Malaysian authorities.

On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama said "we have put every resource that we have available at the disposal of the search process".

Speaking to a Fox News affiliate, the US leader said there had been "close cooperation" with the Malaysian government, and "anybody who typically deals with anything related to our aviation system is available".

Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Malaysia was also speaking to US aviation and transport accident investigation agencies.

"We are finding that the level of co-operation with the Malaysian government is solid, and we are working closely with the Malaysians as well as our other international partners in this effort to find out what happened to the plane and why it happened," he said.

A US law enforcement official told the Reuters news agency the Malaysian officials gave the FBI access to data generated by both pilots including from a hard drive attached to the captain's flight simulator and electronic media used by a co-pilot.

No necessarily suspicious

But the official stressed there was no guarantee the FBI analysis would yield further clues.

Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu said some data was deleted on 3 February from the simulator found at Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's home and that investigators were trying to recover the deleted files.

The acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, stressed the captain should be considered innocent until proven guilty and that members of his family were co-operating with the investigation. Deleting files would not necessarily be suspicious, particularly if it were done to free up memory space.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The relatives of passengers on flight MH370 kicked and shouted as they were being escorted out by police and other staff

The Malaysian authorities have said the evidence so far suggests the Boeing-777 was deliberately turned back across Malaysia to the Strait of Malacca with its communications systems disabled. They are unsure what happened next.

Investigators have identified two giant arcs of territory spanning the possible positions of the plane about seven hours after take-off.

This is based on its last faint signal to a satellite - an hourly "handshake'' broadcast even when communications are switched off. The arcs stretch up as far as Kazakhstan in central Asia and deep into the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.

Investigators are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board.

Earlier on Wednesday, frustration with the lack of progress boiled over into chaotic scenes as Chinese relatives were dragged away from journalists in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital.

They were attempting to speak to Chinese journalists outside the daily press conference.

A BBC reporter was pushed away from the relatives, who were carrying banners criticising the handling of the case.

One of the relatives, a middle-aged woman, cried: "They give different messages every day! Where's the flight now? Find our relatives! Find the aircraft!"

The Malaysian government said later it regretted the scenes and ordered an investigation, saying "one can only imagine the anguish they are going through".