New Delhi: India is widening the search operations for the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft in the Bay of Bengal to 900 km west of Port Blair, with the area of search now reaching within 300 km of Chennai. India has already been carrying out searches in the Andaman Sea as well. The search could now spread in due course towards the Indian Ocean region as well. “The Malaysian authorities have also requested for a search in the Bay of Bengal, expanse of which is approx. 9000 sq km. This area is approx. 900 km due West of Port Blair. Search in this area would be undertaken by the resources of Eastern Naval Command,” the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
According to sources, the Malaysian authorities have given India as many as 22 co-ordinates (from A to V) to conduct the search operations.
“Assets of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and IAF have been deployed in a co-ordinated search of the area in South Andaman Sea for the missing Malaysian Airliner. Indian Navy as been nominated as the lead service for the co-ordination of the operation. The joint effort is being coordinated from Maritime Operations Centre of the Indian Navy at New Delhi”.
“Specific areas have been allocated by the Malaysian authorities for search by Indian ships and aircraft,” the MoD said, adding, “The Joint Operations Room at Port Blair has been activated to monitor the progress of the search operations.”
“Presently, two ships of the Indian Navy, INS Saryu and INS Kumbhir are combing the designated areas in South Andaman Sea. INS Kesari has replaced INS Kumbhir at around 3 pm today for the search as it is also carrying an integral helicopter. In addition, two Coast Guard vessels are also carrying out search along the coastline. Two Dornier aircraft of Indian Navy and Coast Guard are also carrying out an aerial search in the vicinity of the Andaman coastline,” the MoD added.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has been in touch with the families of the five Indian nationals who were among the 239 passengers
on board the Malaysian Airlines aircraft.