Relatives of passengers who were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have appealed to investigators to continue searching for the plane beyond a June deadline. The jet disappeared two years ago with 239 people on board.
Families gathered at a memorial event in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday issued an impassioned plea for authorities not to give up looking for MH370 until they had found answers.
Poignant music played as the next-of-kin released white balloons for each of the missing passengers ahead of the second anniversary of the plane's disappearance on March 8, 2014.
"They can stop the search, but where do we stop the feeling of loss? We want them to try, if possible, to continue searching for MH370," said Jacquita Gonzales, who lost her husband, inflight supervisor Patrick Gomes.
"We will fight on to make sure that we get the truth of exactly what happened to all of them. We will not give up."
MH370 was carrying 239 people when it vanished from radar screens shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. Investigators believe the Boeing 777 may have flown off course before eventually crashing into waters off Australia, but a massive search of the southern Indian Ocean has found no trace of the aircraft. Authorities are expected to call off the hunt for the wreckage in June if no new leads emerge.
Hope of closure?
MH370's disappearance remains one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history as there's still only speculation about why the flight vanished.
Last July, a wing fragment from MH370 was found washed ashore on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion - the only evidence of the plane's fate so far. New debris still to be confirmed as belonging to the aircraft was found off the African coast last week. Both finds, however, yielded no clues as to how the plane crashed.
Martin Dolan, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and head of the search operation, told AFP he remained "very hopeful" something would be found before the 120,000-square-kilometer (46,000-square-mile) search zone is fully scanned. But family members at Sunday's memorial ceremony expressed concern authorities weren't even searching in the right place.
"If they have exhausted one particular line of inquiry, that doesn't mean other areas may not come up with something. Just sit down and ask, 'OK, what next'?" K.S. Narendran, an Indian national whose wife was aboard, said.
Grace Nathan, a Malaysian attorney who lost her mother, demanded investigators retrace their steps for the sake of families searching for closure.
"We don't have anything to accept. We still know nothing and we are all in limbo. If anything I am worse than before," she said.
A meeting set for June between Australia, Malaysia, and China will determine whether to extend the search.
nm/tj (Reuters, AP, AFP)