India has expanded the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane and has pressed into service the Indian Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard in search of the missing aircraft after the Indian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur received a formal request from the Malaysian government.
The search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 on board has expanded to cover an area stretching from South China Sea to Andaman Sea and the focus of the search has now shifted westward towards Andaman Sea, an official release said today.
The search is being conducted with extensive use of two C-130, one Mi-17 V5 helicopter of Indian Air Force and Dornier and P8i, maritime reconnaissance aircraft of the Indian Navy (See: Search for missing Malaysian jet shifts to Indian Ocean).
In addition ships of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard will be combing the area to locate the possible crash site. Both Navy and Air Force are also ready to reinforce their assets on short notice, the release said.
The Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command has been nominated as the Overall Force Commander and Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff is coordinating the entire effort between MoD and Services. Indian Navy has been designated the lead Service.
The headquarters Andaman and Nicobar Command being the nodal agency will assist Malaysia in all possible manner for the search in the area of Andaman Sea. The area indicated by Malaysia lies in the South Andaman Sea and is West of Great Nicobar Island.
Meanwhile the Defence Crisis Management Group is also being activated from today to monitor the progress of the search operations at Headquarter Integrated Defence Staff, the release added.
The Malaysia Airlines plane is reported to have sent signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing early last Saturday, raising the possibility the jet carrying 239 people could have flown far from the current search areas. It also increased speculation that whatever happened to the plane was a deliberate act.
Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints - indicating it was being flown by someone with aviation training - when it was last plotted on military radar off the country's northwest coast.