Malaysia’s Premier Najib Razak on Sunday spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking India’s help in the massive search for the Malaysian jet that went missing with 239 people aboard over a week ago.
Razak spoke to Singh a day after he said Malaysian investigators suspect that the communication system in the missing Boeing 777-200 aircraft was “deliberately disabled” and its transponder switched off before it veered from its path and flew for more than seven hours.
India had put on hold its search operations for the missing airliner as it said it was awaiting fresh instructions from Malaysian authorities who are likely to look into new areas for locating the plane.
India had deployed five warships and six surveillance aircraft for the search operation. Earlier in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today said the number of countries involved in search mission for Flight MH370 had nearly doubled to 25.
“The number of countries involved in the search and rescue operation has increased from 14 to 25,” Hussein told a press conference here. Hussein also confirmed Premier Razak spoke to his counterparts in India, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
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Besides, he said Malaysian Foreign Ministry officials today briefed representatives from at least 22 countries, including India, and sought their help in the search, whose “entered a new phase” as its “nature” has changed.
The help includes satellite and primary radar data and requesting deployment of sea search assets, the minister said. The Beijing-bound jetliner carrying 227 passengers, including five Indians and one Indian-Canadian, and 12 crew members mysteriously vanished from radar screens an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8.
There has been no trace of the plane nor any sign of wreckage despite a search by the navies and military aircraft of several countries across Southeast Asia.