India puts on hold search for missing plane on Malaysia’s request

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missing-planeIndia has put on hold the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the request of the Malaysian government. The Malaysian government wants to reassess the week-old hunt for the Boeing 777 that is suspected of being deliberately flown to an unknown destination

“The Malaysian authorities are reassessing the situation. They will figure whether they need to shift the area of search,” said an official.

India had been combing two areas, one around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and a second, further west, in the Bay of Bengal. Both operations have been suspended, but may yet resume, defence officials said.

“It’s more of a pause,” said Commander Babu, a spokesman for the country’s Eastern Naval Command.

A review of search operations involving more than a dozen countries will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, Indian officials said.

“The search operation is not over, we are on standby and are awaiting instructions from the Malaysians,” said a senior military official in Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an archipelago west of the Malay Peninsula.

The Malaysian government is also searching the homes of the pilot and co-pilot for clues.

The move comes even as the Malaysian Prime Minister stopped short of calling the mysterious disappearance of MH370 a hijacking. He also said the jet veered off course due to deliberate action taken by someone aboard. Authorities have now refocused their investigation on the crew and passengers on board and widened their targeted area to a large swath of Asian geography.

The fate of the flight, with 239 passengers and crew aboard, has been shrouded in mystery since it vanished off Malaysia’s east coast less than an hour into a March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.