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Malaysian aircraft: Hijack theory gains credence

Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 5:30am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

While the fate of Malaysian airline flight MH370 still remains shrouded in mystery, the investigators are increasingly getting certain that it was hijacked as its communications were disabled deliberately shortly before it reached the east coast and it turned back from its flight to Beijing and flew across Malaysia.

A very senior official in Indian security establishment also said all the facts available so far clearly indicate that the plane in, all probability, was hijacked.

"We are almost certain that the Chinese radars and satellites must have picked up some imagery. They probably would be sharing it after reaching to some conclusion. That should tell us the fate of the plane," he said on condition of anynomity.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said on Saturday that based on the latest available satellite data, authorities are now trying to trace the airplane across two possible corridors — a northern corridor from the border of Kazakstan and Turkmenistan through to northern Thailand, and a southern corridor from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

"Clearly the search for MH370 has entered a new phase," he said hoping the new information would bring them one step closer to find the plane.
On a further request by Malaysia that had sought India's help in locating Malaysian airlines Boeing 777-200, Indian Navy further intensified its search efforts by deploying additional naval and air assets for searching an expanded area in the Central and East Bay of Bengal.

The multi-nation search effort now involves over 14 countries, 45 ships, 60 aircraft and over two dozen satellites.

Over 10,000 personnel of the Indian navy from Eastern Naval Command, Southern Air Command apart from Andaman and Nicobar Command have been deployed for search of missing MH370 that even the US satellites have failed to detect so far.

Lt Gen Anil Chait, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff is handling coordination of allocation of resources to various commands.

The third day of Indian search efforts saw the deployment of two recently acquired P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft of the Indian Navy and one C 130 J aircraft of the Indian Air Force in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

The Navy also pushed its short range maritime reconnaissance Dornier aircraft for search operations. The Indian Coast Guard have also been extensively deployed for the on-going search operations.

Six ships, three each from the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, have been deployed, with the Indian Naval Ships Kesari and Saryu continuing their search as part of the International group in the Andaman Sea, spokesperson of the Indian Navy said.

In addition to Coast Guard ships Kanaklata Barua and Bhikaji Cama in the Andaman Sea, CGS Sagar has also been tasked for undertaking search in the Malacca Straits.
The Eastern Naval Command has also provided aircraft assets including the P8I aircraft for search in the Bay of Bengal. Additional ships and aircraft are standby for augmenting the search.

Indian Navy said as the lead service, it is maintaining continuous liaison with the Operations Centres of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Air Force so as to coordinate the on-going multi-national effort over an area spanning more than 2,50,000 sq km in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.

Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Operations) interacted with his counterpart from the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces to coordinate these operations.
So far no sighting or detection has been reported by any of the units involved in the search that is expected to continue, spokesperson of the Indian Navy said.

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