Relatives of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have traveled to Madagascar, hoping to try to push governments to widen the search area along the East African coast.
More than 1,000 days since the mysterious disappearance of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines jet, relatives of missing MH370 passengers headed to Madagascar Saturday, still maintaining the hope of finding seaborne debris.
Four Malaysians and two Chinese nationals left from Kuala Lumpur where they were due to be joined in Madagascar by other MH370 next-of-kin travelling from France.
"There is still a lot at stake."
Flight MH370 was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
It is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean, but an extensive deep-sea hunt off Australia's west coast has so far failed to find a single piece of debris from the plane.
The search is expected to be suspended by the end of the year, when an Australian-led team completes its scouring of a 120,000-sq-km target area.
Hopes to expand search
Speaking ahead of the trip to Madagascar, Grace Nathan - spokeswoman for next-of-kin support group Voice 370 - said she hoped the trip would help encourage the Malaysian, Chinese and Australian governments to collect debris along the continental coast where parts from the aircraft had been found.
Three pieces of debris found on the beaches of Mauritius, Tanzania and the French island of Reunion, have been confirmed to be from MH370. Investigators are examining several other pieces found in Mozambique and South Africa.
Nathan, a Malaysian attorney whose mother was on the plane, said: "We want the world to know that just because the search is about to end, that doesn't mean to us that the search is ending.
"After repeated attempts, and repeated requests for a mobilization of a search along the coastline, nothing has been done to date," she told reporters at Kuala Lumpur airport.
"It has fallen into our hands to take on this search upon ourselves," said Nathan told reporters at the airport.
"After repeated requests for mobilization of a search along the east African coastline, nothing has been done to date."
'We want to reach as far and wide'
Many next-of-kin have repeatedly complained about the lack of a coordinated search in the western Indian Ocean and along the African coast. Nathan said on Saturday that once in Madagascar, relatives will distribute brochures educating villagers on how to identify plane debris.
"We want to reach as far and wide in Madagascar to coastal communities to villages. We want to speak to as many NGOs as possible," she said.
A report released last month by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the search, said the plane was likely out of control when it plunged into the ocean with its wing flaps not prepared for landing, casting doubt on whether a pilot was still in charge of the cockpit.
ksb/rc (AFP, Reuters)