NEW DELHI – Indian Navy ships supported by long-range surveillance planes and helicopters scoured Andaman Sea islands for a third day Saturday without any success in finding evidence of a missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, officials said.
Nearly a dozen ships, patrol vessels, surveillance planes and helicopters have been deployed to find a trace of Flight MH370, which set off over a week ago from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, but “we have got nothing so far,” said V.S.R. Murthy, an Indian coast guard official.
The Indian Navy’s coordinated search has so far covered more than 250,000 sq. km in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal “without any sighting or detection,” the Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The search has been expanded to the central and eastern sides of the Bay of Bengal, the ministry said.
India intensified the search Saturday by deploying two recently acquired P8i long-range maritime patrol aircraft and one C 130J Hercules plane to the region. Short-range maritime reconnaissance Dornier aircraft have also been deployed, the ministry said.
Bangladesh has joined the search effort in the Bay of Bengal with two patrol aircraft and two frigates, said Mahbubul Haque Shakil, an aide of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
India’s Defense Ministry said that seeing no headway, Malaysian authorities suggested Friday a new search area of 9,000 sq. km to India along the Chennai coast in the Bay of Bengal.
On Friday, India used heat sensors on flights over hundreds of uninhabited Andaman Sea islands that stretch south of Myanmar, covering an area 720 km long and 52 km wide. Only 37 of the 572 isles surveyed are inhabited, with the rest covered in dense forests. The island cluster has four airstrips, but only the main airport in Port Blair can handle a large commercial jetliner .