India began searching hundreds of uninhabited islands in the Andaman Sea on Friday, using heat-seeking devices in looking for the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared six days ago, officials said.
Two Indian air force reconnaissance planes began flying over the islands as a precaution, after they and two naval ships scoured the seas surrounding the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, according to spokesman Col. Harmit Singh of India’s Tri-Services Command on the territory.
The archipelago that stretches south of Myanmar contains 572 islands covering an area of 720-by-52 kilometers. Only 37 are inhabited, with the rest covered in dense forests.
The Indian navy is also considering expanding its search west into the Bay of Bengal.
“We are awaiting permission from the Navy,” he said, but declined to give details about the rest of the search operation, including the use of technologies such as the heat sensors aboard the Dornier planes.
Coast Guard official V.S.R. Murthy said India would turn its focus toward western waters between the islands and the Indian coast. On Friday, two navy ships were still sailing east of Great Nicobar Island.