India halts search for missing Malaysian plane
New Delhi: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Sunday called his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and requested technical assistance in tracking the possible route taken by the missing Malaysian plane. India has temporarily suspended its operations as Kuala Lumpur reassesses its search strategy.
"The Malaysian prime minister requested for technical assistance from Indian authorities in corroborating possible paths that the missing Malaysian airliner might have taken after losing contact with ATC (air traffic controller) radars," an official from the Prime Minister's Office told IANS.
"PM (Manmohan Singh), while sharing his concern and anxiety about the fate of the aircraft and the well being of the passengers, assured all possible assistance from concerned Indian authorities," the official said. India is already assisting in the search for the missing plane. However, the operations have been suspended temporarily as Kuala Lumpur reassesses its strategy.
"Malaysian authorities have now indicated that, based on investigation, the search operations have entered a new phase and a strategy for further searches is being formulated," said a statement from the defence ministry. "Accordingly, search operations have been suspended and all Indian assets earmarked for SAR (search and rescue) operations have been placed on standby," it said.
India has deployed numerous assets of its navy, air force and coast guard to search for the missing plane of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. A total of six aircraft and six ships with their integral helicopters were deployed which have combed the designated search areas spanning across the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Additional naval assets have been kept on standby for immediate deployment. The statement added that India continues to maintain active coordination with the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force from its Maritime Operations Centre at New Delhi.
In Port Blair, Colonel Harmit Singh, spokesman for the Andaman and Nicobar Command, told IANS: "The Coast Guard will revert to routine surveillance till further orders." The Malaysian plane with 239 passengers and crew vanished without trace after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8. So far no sighting or detection has been reported by the units deployed for searches in various designated areas.