India sends 4 warships to search missing jet

Navy, Coast Guard plane reach Port Blair

India sends 4 warships to search missing jet

India on Thursday has launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ by deploying four warships and three surveillance aircraft to join the coordinated international effort to look for Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370, which went missing early on Saturday.

Three Navy ships – INS Kumbhir, INS Saryu and INS Kesari – and Coast Guard vessel ICGS Kanak Lata Barua set sail at noon. They are expected to reach the location by midnight.

The Navy's latest long-range maritime surveillance aircraft P8I flew from its home-base at Arakonam on the Coromandel coast and landed at Port Blair from where it will fly to the designated search area. Two Dorniers aircraft operated by the Coast Guard are accompanying the P8I.

The Air Force's C-130J Super Hercules aircraft too has been roped in. “One C-130J is on its way to Port Blair and may join the search on Friday morning,” said an IAF official.

The search area designated by the Royal Malaysian Navy is spread over 35,000 sq km (17000 sq nautical miles) of high seas. Naval forces from 12 countries are scouring the sea to find any sign of the aircraft that disappeared mysteriously with 239 people on-board including five Indians.

The western fringe of the search area is 60 nautical miles from Campbell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar and extends to the north about 225 nautical miles from Hut Bay in Little Andaman.

Navy operators are relying on sightings within their viscnity and are therefore likely to progress slower. “A trained seaman can see up to a distance of 1-3 nautical miles (2-6 km) with binoculars. The horizon comes at 8 nautical miles but you can not see much with your eyes beyond 3 nautical miles. The radars will not be of much help in this case,” explained a Navy officer. They are also using sonar technology to trace any elements underwater.

The operation is being coordinated by the maritime operational centre at the naval headquarters headed by Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, director general of naval operations.
India joins the search effort, five days after the plane vanished in air, following a request from the Malaysian government. Kuala Lumpur approached New Delhi on the advice of the Malaysian military that believed that the aircraft was in the Malacca Strait when it lost contact with the ground.

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