India extends search for missing plane to west of Andaman islands

THE search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on the eastern side of the Andaman islands has come up empty so far, pushing Indian search operations towards the west of the islands, said officials.

Indian search operations involving a mix of choppers, aircraft and warship have come up empty handed, raising the possibility that more assets would be deployed as the scope of the search operations widens every day.

"We are using our helicopter to search the western side of Andamans and Nicober islands,'' said Inspector-General VSR Murthy of the Andaman and Nicobar Coast Guard.

Even the shoreline of the islands in the area are now being combed to see if any debris has washed up, which would give some clues on what happened to the ill-fated Malayia plane.

Following a request from Malaysia, India has deployed warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Coast Guard in the search operations in the Andaman Seas. Four warships and five aircraft are involved, while a fifth airship which is on its way from Brunei will also join the search, officials said.

The Defence Crisis Management Group, a high-level group, has been activated from Thursday to keep track of the progress of the search operations, which are being coordinated in Port Blair, the base of India's largest tri-services area command called the Andaman & Nicobar Command,

The search area was given to India by Malaysia and it lies in the South Andaman Sea, according to a defence ministry release.