Malaysia Jet search: India denies China entry around Andaman islands

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Malaysian-AirlinesNEW DELHI: India has declined China’s proposal to allow four of its warships to join the hunt for the MH370 jetliner near the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, even as it is now dispatching two aircraft to Malaysia to join the international search force that is now scanning southern Indian Ocean off Australia for the missing 777-200ER aircraft.

Officials on Thursday said China’s request to allow its four warships, including two frigates and a salvage vessel, to enter Indian territorial waters has been “politely turned down” since Indian warships and aircraft are already searching the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea around the 572-island cluster.

While the Chinese warships are free to sail in international waters, Indian forces will obviously be unhappy about their presence anywhere near the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

“The A&N command is our military outpost in the region, which overlooks the Malacca Strait and dominates the Six-Degree Channel. We don’t want Chinese warships sniffing around in the area on the pretext of hunting for the missing jetliner or anti-piracy patrols,” said an official.

An Indian P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance plane and a C-130J special operations aircraft, with electro-optic and infra-red sensors, meanwhile will fly to Malaysia on Friday morning to join the international search force there.

The new region off Australia is now on everyone’s radar screens after two objects, which could be debris from the missing Malaysian Airlines 777-200ER aircraft, were spotted floating there by a satellite on Thursday.

“Indian Navy already has four warships (INS Satpura, Sahyadari, Saryu and Batti Malv) deployed in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea in continuation of the search for the jetliner. Extensive air searches are also being conducted with three aircraft (P-8I, C-130J and Dornier-228) in the area,” said an officer.

“In addition to all this, the P-8I and C-130J will be joining the international force in Malaysia by Friday afternoon. We are in continuous touch with the Royal Malaysian Navy and Air Force from our maritime operations centre at New Delhi to render all possible help,” he added.