Australia has taken the lead in the hunt for the missing Boeing 777 over the southern Indian Ocean as the list of countries providing assistance rose to 26 today.

The move came as Malaysia’s transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein revealed that two million square miles still need to be searched.

Malaysia has appealed for radar data and search planes to help in the unprecedented hunt through a vast swath of Asia stretching north-west into Kazakhstan.

It said searches have begun in both the northern and southern corridors of a vast swath of Asia where the jet may have ended up.

The Malaysian government has revealed an investigation indicates the jet was deliberately diverted and flew for several hours after leaving its scheduled flight path.