KUALA LUMPUR: Relatives of missing MH370 passengers were headed to Madagascar Saturday, harbouring hopes of finding seaborne debris, 1,001 days since the mysterious disappearance of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines jet.
Four Malaysians and two Chinese nationals left from Kuala Lumpur and will be joined in Madagascar by other MH370 next-of-kin travelling from France.
The Boeing 777 jet was carrying 239 passengers and crew when it disappeared en route 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, with the search set to end by early 2017.
“It has fallen into our hands to take on this search upon ourselves,” Grace Nathan, a Malaysian attorney who lost her mother on the flight, told reporters at the airport.
“After repeated requests for mobilisation of a search along the east African coastline, nothing has been done to date.”
Many next-of-kin have repeatedly complained about the lack of a coordinated search in the western Indian Ocean and along the African coast despite the recovery there of several pieces of debris which were either confirmed or declared highly likely to have come from MH370.
Grace said 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.
The first piece of debris found from MH370 – a two-metre wing part known as a flaperon – washed up on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion in July 2015.
Since then a range of debris linked to the flight has been found along western Indian Ocean shorelines.
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. --AFP