India to deploy helicopters, ships in Malaysian jet search

PORT BLAIR, India Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:35pm IST

Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Indian sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik works on a sand sculpture of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at golden beach at Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha March 12, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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PORT BLAIR, India (Reuters) - India's defence ministry ordered the deployment of ships, aircraft and helicopters from the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Thursday to search for a missing Malaysian airliner that disappeared from radar screens last Saturday.

The armed forces will hold a meeting on Thursday evening to decide how to coordinate their search efforts with other countries, after which they will make deployments, a senior command officer said.

"Details are being worked out," Harmeet Singh, a command spokesman in Port Blair, told Reuters.

The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, with 239 people on board, vanished from air traffic control screens midway between Malaysia's east coast and Vietnam. Its fate remains a mystery and no wreckage has been identified.

The search involves a dozen countries and has been widened to the Andaman Sea, to the west of the Malaysian peninsula. U.S. investigators suspect that the aircraft flew for some four hours after its last confirmed location, the Wall Street Journal reported.

On Wednesday, a Dornier aircraft belonging to India's coastguard set off to search the eastern side of the Andaman islands, on orders from New Delhi, but found nothing.

(Reporting by Sanjib Kumar Roy; Writing by Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Simon Cameron-Moore)

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