India’s navy said Friday it has nearly doubled the number of ships and planes deployed to search the Andaman Sea for a missing Malaysian jet which disappeared with 239 people on board.
Naval authorities also said Malaysia had asked India to extend its search operations further west to the Bay of Bengal, which forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean.
The Indian navy said six ships and five aircraft were now scouring for any sign of the vanished plane in the Andaman Sea, which surrounds India’s remote Andaman and Nicobar group of islands that lie far to the country’s southeast.
“We want to cover the area and it should be strictly done,” Indian naval spokesman D.K. Sharma told AFP.
India had earlier deployed three ships and three aircraft in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 which disappeared a week ago.
The Indian ships and aircraft were looking in an area “designated” by the Malaysian navy in the southern region of the Andaman Sea, Sharma said.
The Malaysia Airlines flight, which lost contact on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had five Indian passengers aboard.
Malaysian authorities had said Friday they were dramatically expanding the already vast scope of their so-far fruitless search, heading further west into the Indian Ocean and east across the South China Sea.
Indian naval authorities said in a statement that the location to be searched in the Bay of Bengal lies 900 kilometres (560 miles) west of Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar.
A naval spokesman told AFP that India was acting on Malaysia’s request, but no planes or ships had yet been diverted to the new location.
He said he had no information on when the search in the Bay of Bengal would begin.