New Delhi, March 13: India Thursday joined the search for the missing Malaysian aircraft, pressing into service its Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard. The decision was taken after a formal request in this regard was received from the Indian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, a government statement said here.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew onboard vanished without a trace after taking off from Kuala Lumpur Saturday. A dozen nations have deployed their assets to help in the hunt for the aircraft, but so far there has been no trace of the plane. (Read: Three Indian Naval ships and one aircraft to be deployed for search)

The focus of the search has shifted westward towards the Andaman Sea now, the release said, adding that the search has been expanded to cover an area stretching from South China Sea to Andaman Sea.

Apart from the air effort to locate the plane, ships of Indian Navy and Coast Guard will be combing the area to locate the possible crash site. Both the navy and the air force are also ready to reinforce their assets at short notice.

The commander-in-chief of Andaman and Nicobar command has been nominated as the overall force commander. The Indian Navy has been designated as the lead service.

The headquarters of the Andaman and Nicobar command, being the nodal agency, will assist Malaysia in all possible manner for the search in the area of Andaman Sea, the release said.

Meanwhile, the defence crisis management group is also being activated from Thursday to monitor the progress of the search operations at the headquarters of the integrated defence staff.