[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

US navy joins search for Malaysian jet

Focus of efforts shifts from South China Sea to Indian Ocean as authorities expand search amid conflicting information.

Last updated: 14 Mar 2014 14:53
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The US navy has ordered a ship to the Indian Ocean to search for a missing Malaysian airliner amid reports the plane kept "pinging" a satellite after losing radar contact.

The focus of search efforts shifted on Thursday from the South China Sea after the US said "new information" indicated that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, with 239 on board, may have gone down to the west in the Indian Ocean.

Malaysian authorities expanded their search for the plane westward towards India, based on reports that it could have flown for hours after it last made contact.

Hishammuddin Hussein, the Malaysian transport minister, said his government was asking for radar data from India and other neighbouring countries.

For its part, India used heat sensors on flights over hundreds of uninhabited Andaman Sea islands on Friday and will expand its search futher west into the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Two Indian naval ships and two coast guard vessels also scoured the surrounding seas without finding evidence of the plane, according to Colonel Harmit Singh, a spokesman for India's navy.

Destroyer deployed

Jay Carney, a spokesman for the White House, said: "It's my understanding that based on some new information that's not necessarily conclusive, but new information, an additional search area may be opened in the Indian Ocean.

Separately, a US navy official, referring to a guided-missile destroyer initially deployed to the Gulf of Thailand said: "The USS Kidd is transiting the Strait of Malacca, on route to the Indian Ocean."

A US surveillance plane was also believed to be heading to the area to join another US aircraft.

A second US destroyer, the USS Pinckney, is still in the Gulf of Thailand, but it was unclear if it would remain in the international search effort after this week, officials said.

Widening search

Uncertainty clouds search for Malaysian airliner

These moves followed reports that the Boeing 777 airliner's communication system continued to contact a satellite for a number of hours after the plane disappeared off radar as well as statements by Malaysian officials that the airliner may have doubled back after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

So far, communications satellites have only picked up faint electronic pulses from the flight since it went missing, but the signals have given no indication about where the jet was headed nor its technical condition, a source close to the investigation told the Reuters news agency.

Planes were sent on Thursday to search an area off the southern tip of Vietnam where Chinese satellite images published on a Chinese government website reportedly showed three suspected floating objects. But they only saw ocean.

Dozens of ships and aircraft from 12 nations have been searching the Gulf of Thailand and the strait, but no trace has been found.

"It's such a vast area and with these little clues they really don't know where to start," said Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reporting from Kuala Lumpur.

The search area has grown to 92,600sq km.

551

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.