Search for Missing Plane Intensified in Bay of Bengal
India on Saturday further intensified its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 with additional naval and air assets deployed in an expanded area in the Bay of Bengal, close to the Chennai coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
This was the third day of Indian participation in the global search for the plane that went missing mysteriously on March 7 after taking off with 239 passengers on board from Kaula Lumpur. “So far, no sighting or detection has been reported by any of the units,” it was made clear by the Indian authorities.
The Indian efforts saw the deployment of two recently-acquired P8I long range maritime patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy and one C-130J aircraft of the Indian Air Force in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.
One of the P8I had flown out of its home base at INS Rajali in Arakkonam near Chennai on Thursday and landed in Port Blair to join the aerial search operations on Friday. Another P8I from Arakkonam carried out an airborne lookout for the missing plane off the Chennai coast in the Bay of Bengal, naval sources said.
Two short-range maritime reconnaissance dornier aircraft of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have been deployed for the ongoing search operations from Port Blair in the Andamans.
“Six ships -- three each from the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard -- have been deployed, with the naval ships Kesari and Saryu continuing their search as a part of the international group in the Andaman Sea,” a Navy spokesperson said here.
In addition to the Coast Guard ships Kanaklata Barua and Bhikaji Cama in the Andaman Sea, CGS Sagar too was tasked for undertaking search in the Malacca Straits, he said.
Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command provided its aircraft assets including the P8I aircraft for search in the Bay of Bengal. Additional ships and aircraft are on standby for augmenting the search, the Navy said.
As the lead service from India in the search operations, the Indian Navy maintained a continuous liaison with the operations centres of the Malaysian navy and the Malaysian air force so as to coordinate the ongoing multi-national efforts involving over 14 countries, 45 ships and 60 aircraft.
“The Indian Navy has coordinated search over an area spanning more than 2,50,000 sq km in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, thus, far and search operations are expected to continue,” the spokesperson said.
The missing Malaysian Airlines plane MH370 had five Indians on board and theories are doing the rounds over the aircraft being “deliberately diverted” from its scheduled flight path.