The multinational search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft carrying 239 passengers is now being extended to the seas west of Bay of Bengal.

“The Malaysian authorities have requested for a search in the Bay of Bengal, [the] expanse of [the area to be combed] is approximately 9,000 sq kms (15 km X 600 Km). This area is approximately 900 km due west of Port Blair,” said a spokesperson of the Indian Navy, which along with the Coast Guard and the Air Force, joined the search efforts on Thursday.

Ships and aircraft of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam would be mobilised to conduct the search, he said.

The focus of investigations, it was reported, had shifted to areas west of Malaysia after agencies on Friday reported that the plane could have been diverted to the Strait of Malacca or further ahead into the Indian Ocean by someone familiar with flying airplanes.

India, which launched ‘Operation Search Light’ on Thursday, sent out ships and launched maritime reconnaissance aircraft from its joint Andaman and Nicobar Command to search an area of 17,000 nautical miles in eastern Andaman Sea.

While naval vessels INS Saryu and INS Kumbhir and Coast Guard ship Kanaklata Barua searched east of the Greater Nicobar Island, two Dornier Do-228 aircraft scoured the island chain. Colonel Harmit Singh, spokesperson of the joint command at Port Blair, said two Coast Guard vesselswere also diverted to fortify the search. Air Marshal P.K. Roy, the Commander-in-Chief of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, has been nominated as the commander of the Indian forces taking part in the operation.

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