India set to join search for missing Malaysian plane

India is expected to join the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane even as the mystery over the plane's whereabouts has been confounded by confusing and occasionally conflicting statements by Malaysian officials.

Malaysia AirlinesMalaysia sought India's assistance for the search of the missing aircraft, following an offer from President Pranab Mukherjee .

"The President of India had written yesterday to Malaysian head of state offering assistance. Following this they sought assistance. We are ready to help. We are coordinating details with Malay side," a spokesperson of India's ministry of external affairs said.

Indian Air Force today said it has kept its aircraft on standby for taking part in the search operations for locating the missing Malaysian plane.

"We have kept our aircraft on standby and as soon as we get a go ahead, we are ready to take off for search operations," an IAF spokesperson said.

The IAF and the Indian Navy regularly conducts search over area near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and this could extend to the Malacca Straits.

The IAF has its Dornier aircraft along with the Mi-17 helicopters deployed in the Island territory and if need be, the Navy can deploy the P-8I and the Tu-142 maritime surveillance aircraft.

The Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 plane, which had five Indians on board, vanished over the South China Sea on Friday an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur (See: Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 vanishes over South China Sea).

Malaysia sought assistance from India to trace its missing aircraft with 239 people aboard on the fifth day today, with 34 planes, 40 ships and teams from ten countries scouring the waters along the plane's flight path and beyond to trace it.

"There's too much information and confusion right now. It is very hard for us to decide whether a given piece of information is accurate," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing. "We will not give it up as long as there's still a shred of hope."

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early Saturday morning and last made contact with ground control officials about 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and southern Vietnam before vanishing.

Dozens of planes and ships from at least eight nations are scouring waters on both sides of peninsular Malaysia but have found no trace of the jet.

Citing military radar, Malaysian authorities have said the plane may have turned back from its last known position, possibly making it as far as the Strait of Malacca, some 400 kilometers from the plane's last known position.

The mystery about the disappearance of the plane is baffling as it has escaped detection by radars. Questions are being raised as to how it might have done this without its electrical systems, including transponders allowing it to be identified by radar.

If it did suffer a catastrophic incident, initially thought reasonable, it didn't send out any distress signals to prove that as well.