Malaysia has asked for India's assistance in searching for the missing Boeing 777 jetliner to widen the search to an area near the Andaman Sea, an Indian official said Wednesday.

A boy waits for his family members arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Rahman Roslan/Getty Images)

Malaysian authorities contacted their Indian counterparts Tuesday seeking help in searching areas near the Andaman for the Malaysia Airlines plane, said Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

Akbaruddin said India had appointed a contact person to liaise with Malaysian authorities, but did not give details about what kind of help India would offer.

"This is a new development," Akbaruddin said, referring to the search extending to the Andaman Sea, north of the Strait of Malacca. "The two sides were working out what specifics they want, and what we can assist in."

The jet was heading from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing with 239 people aboard when it went missing early Saturday.

Malaysia's civil aviation authorities and the military have said the plane may have turned back from its last known position between Malaysia and Vietnam, possibly making it as far as the Strait of Malacca, a busy shipping lane west of the narrow nation.

Indian navy ships frequently patrol the seas around the Strait of Malacca and regularly conduct exercises with countries in the region.

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