India joins search for Malaysian flight
India on Thursday said it has pressed its Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard into service to search the missing Malaysian Airlines flight.
"With a request for help from the Government of Malaysia in tracing the missing Malaysian Airline aircraft, the focus of the search has shifted westward towards Andaman Sea. A formal request in this regard was received from Indian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur. With the search expanded to cover an area stretching from South China Sea to Andaman Sea, the Indian Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have been pressed into service for the search of the missing aircraft," the Indian Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Thursday.
"The air effort for searching the area extensively will include two C-130, one Mi-17 V5 helicopter of Indian Air Force and Dornier and P8i, maritime reconnaissance aircraft of Indian Navy. In addition ships of 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," read the statement.
"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," it said.
The Ministry said the 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," read the statement.
Malaysia on Thursday dismissed reports that the missing Malaysian Airlines flight might have flown for several hours after contact was lost.
"I would like to refer to news reports suggesting that the aircraft may have continued flying for some time after the last contact. As Malaysia Airlines will confirm shortly, those reports are inaccurate," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.
"The last transmission from the aircraft was at 0107 which indicated that everything was normal. Rolls Royce and Boeing teams are here in Kuala Lumpur and have worked with MAS and the investigations team since Sunday. This issue has never been raised," he said.
"Whenever there are new details, they must be corroborated. Since today s media reports, MAS has asked Rolls Royce and Boeing specifically about this data. As far as Rolls Royce and Boeing are concerned, those reports are inaccurate," the minister said.
He said the Chinese satellite pictures of debris in the South China Sea were not related to the missing flight.
"A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency surveillance plane was dispatched this morning to investigate potential debris shown on Chinese satellite images," Hussein said.
He said: "We deployed our assets but found nothing. We have contacted the Chinese embassy who notified us this afternoon that the images were released by mistake, and did not show any debris from MH370."
The aircraft,which is carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, went missing over the South China Sea since last week
It was going from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
(Posted on 13-03-2014)