Search for missing Malaysian plane expands to Indian Ocean

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MH 370
Washington, Mar 14: The massive international search for the missing Malaysian airliner is likely to be widened into the Indian Ocean with the US deploying a ship to the Andaman Sea to locate the airliner.

The move came after the US' defence and aviation experts noted that there was a significant probability of the plane to be at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. India along with US Navy's P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft with long-range radar and communication capabilities will search in the Andaman Sea west of the Malacca Strait.

"The US P-3 will search west of the Strait of Malacca in the Andaman Sea," Lt Col Jeffrey Pool, a Pentagon spokesman said. USS Kidd is now transiting from the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean, the US Navy said, referring to a guided-missile destroyer initially deployed to the Gulf of Thailand.

"It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive, but new information, an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean, and we are consulting with international partners about the appropriate assets to deploy," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"It is frustrating for everyone, but agonising for the families of those passengers on the flight," he said. "It is my understanding that one possible piece of information or collection of pieces of information has led to the possibility that a new area, a search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean," he added.

A senior American official said the information that the plane may have flown for four hours after dropping from radar came from a data stream sent directly by engines aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the Washington Post reported.

If the two engines on the Boeing 777 functioned for up to four additional hours, that could strengthen concern that a rogue pilot or hijacker took control of the plane early Saturday over the Gulf of Thailand, it said.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal said communication satellites received intermittent data "pings" from a missing Malaysia Airlines jet, giving the plane's location, speed and altitude for at least five hours after it disappeared from civilian radar screens.

The final satellite ping was sent from over water, at what one of these people called a "normal" cruising altitude. Noting that it is unclear why the transmissions stopped, the daily reported that one possibility could be that the system sending them had been disabled by someone on board.

The flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers, including five Indians and one Indian-origin Canadian, and 12 crew members when it mysteriously vanished from radar screens an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing last week.


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