Thursday, 13 March 2014

Malaysia jet search: India to deploy ships, aircraft and helicopters

India's defense ministry instructed the joint command on the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands to deploy ships, aircraft and helicopters to search for a missing Malaysian airliner, a command spokesman Harmeet Singh told Reuters.

The armed forces will hold a meeting to decide how to coordinate their search efforts with other countries, after which they will make deployments, a senior command officer said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that U S investigators probing the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet believe it may have flown for four hours after losing contact with air traffic controllers, .

If confirmed, the report would represent another dramatic twist in what is already one of the most baffling mysteries in modern aviation history — the fate of Flight MH370, which took off from Kuala Lumpur early on Saturday and dropped off civilian radar screens less than an hour into its flight to Beijing.

On the sixth day of the search, planes were sweeping an area of sea where Chinese satellite images had shown what could be debris, but had so far found no sign of the airliner.

The Wall Street Journal said US aviation investigators and national security officials believed the plane flew for a total of five hours, based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing 777's engines as part of a standard monitoring program.

It raises the possibility that the plane, and the 239 people on board, could have flown on for an additional distance of about 2,200 miles (3,500 km), potentially reaching Pakistan, destinations in the Indian Ocean or Mongolia, the paper said.

A senior Malaysia Airlines official told Reuters that no such data existed, while a second official said he was unaware of it. A spokeswoman for engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce had no immediate comment.

Malaysia Airlines has said previously that the Rolls-Royce Trent engines stopped transmitting monitoring signals when contact with the plane was lost.

As frustration mounts over the failure to find any trace of the plane, China heaped pressure on Malaysia to improve coordination in the search. Around two-thirds of the people aboard the lost plane were Chinese.

Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at a news conference in Beijing, demanded that the "relevant party" step up coordination while China's civil aviation chief said he wanted a "smoother" flow of information from Malaysia, which has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster.

Vietnamese and Malaysian planes scanned waters where a Chinese government agency website said a satellite had photographed three "suspicious floating objects" on Sunday. The location was close to where the plane lost contact with air traffic control.

Aircraft repeatedly circled the area over the South China Sea but were unable to detect any objects, said a Reuters journalist aboard one of the planes.

Thursday 13 March 2014


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