MH370 disappearance: Indian officials ask local sailors and fishermen to stay alert
The Indian authorities have instructed local sailors and fishermen in the Andaman and Nicobar islands to keep a sharp eye out and sound alarm if they see anything unusual in the wake of the missing Malaysian Airlines aircraft.
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian air traffic control screens off Malaysia's east coast less than an hour after take-off early on March 8.
An international land and sea search for the missing Malaysian jetliner is covering an area the size of Australia, but police and intelligence agencies have yet to establish a clear motive to explain its disappearance.
Investigators are convinced that someone with deep knowledge of the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial navigation diverted Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 12 crew and 227 mainly Chinese passengers, perhaps thousands of miles off its scheduled course from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Whilst India has put on hold its search for the missing aircraft at the request of the Malaysian government, which wants to reassess the hunt for the vanished plane, fishermen and local boatmen said they had been instructed to exercise extra vigilence while out at sea.
Balayogi, a senior sailor on one of the civilian boats in Port Blair, said they were instructed to offer all possible help if they spotted anyone in trouble.
"Our captain has been told to be extra vigilant and he has instructed us to keep a careful watch while sailing," he said.
"Any piece of wreckage, anything unusual in the sea, if we see anything then we have to inform our captain about it," he added.
Investigators piecing together patchy data from military radar and satellites believe that someone turned off the aircraft's identifying transponder and ACARS system, which transmits maintenance data, and turned west, re-crossing the Malay Peninsula and following a commercial aviation route towards India.
P. Madhivanan, captain and master of the boat "Lawrence", said they had been asked to immediately alert the communication centre if they found anything unusual in the sea.
"We have been given instructions to keep an eye out and if we find someone seeking any kind of help we must help," he said.
"We have also been instructed to immediately inform our communication centre if we see anything and provide all possible help," he added.
Police and a multi-national investigation team may never know for sure what happened aboard the jetliner unless they find the plane, and that in itself is a daunting challenge
(Posted on 20-03-2014)