More than two full days after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, a massive army of international investigators and search-and-rescue workers remained in the dark Monday about where the plane is and what happened to it.
The airline said Monday morning that it had shifted its focus to caring for the families of the 239 passengers and crew who were on board when it broke contact with Malaysian air traffic control at 2:40 a.m. Saturday (1:40 p.m. ET Friday). It said financial assistance has been distributed to them "over and above their basic needs."
"This means providing them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals, medical and emotional support," the airline said, including at least one full-time care-giver per family.
"The costs for these are all borne by Malaysia Airlines," it said.
Meanwhile, the search for the missing plane continued Monday.
The airline and Malaysian civil aviation officials said the area of operations had been expanded to 50 nautical miles involving 34 aircraft and 40 ships from several countries, including the United States.
Vietnam's Civil Aviation Authority said a navy plane spotted an object that could have been part of the missing jet in the Gulf of Thailand near the area where possible oil slicks were observed Saturday. There was no confirmation Monday.
"I think we have a lot questions here," said Jim Tilmon Sr., a 29-year airline pilot and president of the Tilmon Group, an analytical firm specializing in commercial aviation accidents and aviation security.
After the actual location of the plane, the biggest mystery was how it could have disappeared without apparently having sent any distress call or signal of any kind, Tilmon told MSNBC-TV.
That indicates "something catastrophic happened, something immediately disabling, something that made the crew ineffective," he said.