The search for the missing Malaysian airplane MH370 will now be expanded to the Northern and Southern Arc, with the Malaysian authorities expected to share the fresh coordinates with the Indian agencies in the next few days.
This will mean that the Indian authorities will comb a broad sweep of area, on land and sea, since the Northern Arc covers parts of northern India, and the Southern Arc covers Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. So far, the Indian establishment had mobilised aircrafts and ships in order to search the waters of the Andaman Sea.
This emerged as the new area of search as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while Indian officials were briefed in Kuala Lumpur.
Razak called up Singh on Sunday evening, and requested “technical assistance” from Indian authorities in tracing the plane.
Official sources in New Delhi confirmed the call, which took place at about 5.30 pm, as Singh spoke with his Malaysian counterpart from his Race Course Road residence.
According to sources, Singh assured Najib of “all assistance” by Indian authorities in “corroborating possible pathways” Flight MH370 may have taken.
Sources told The Indian Express that the Malaysian side briefed the Indian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur T S Tirumurti and the Ministry of External Affairs’ joint secretary (south) Sanjay Bhattacharya — who is also in Malaysia — about the progress in the investigations on Sunday.
A government source told The Indian Express, “The Malaysian side were very appreciative of Indian efforts to find the missing aircraft. Now, they have to give us the coordinates of the Northern Arc — which covers several countries, and the Southern Arc — which covers the Indian Ocean. The Indian side will then work on those two possible flight paths.”
Singh, during the phone conversation with Najib, shared “his concern and anxiety” about the fate of the aircraft and the wellbeing of the passengers, and assured all possible assistance from the concerned Indian authorities.
The conversation took place, a day after Najib 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.
This had led to a theory about a possible 9/11-type attack on India, as former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had tweeted : “Malaysian plane mystery: Direction, fuel load & range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city.” However, Talbott, whose comments went viral over the last 24 hours, called it “speculation” on Sunday.
“Malaysian#370 as hijack: 1 of many theories. Speculation: hijackers headed toward India but crashed like UA#93 on 9/11”, he tweeted on Sunday.
India had put on hold its search operations as it said it was awaiting fresh instructions from Malaysian authorities.