Relatives hope to find MH370 debris

Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 address the media prior to departing for Madagascar from Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on December 3, 2016.
PHOTO: YouTube screengrab

KUALA LUMPUR - Relatives of missing MH370 passengers are headed to Madagascar in the hope of finding seaborne debris, 1,001 days since the disappearance of the 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 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 next year.

"It has fallen into our hands to take on this search ourselves," Grace Subathirai Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer who lost her mother on the flight, told reporters at the KL International Airport yesterday.

Many of the relatives 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 would distribute brochures educating villagers on how to identify plane debris.

"We want to reach as far and wide in Madagascar, from coastal communities to villages.

"We want to speak to as many NGOs as possible," she added.

The first piece of debris found from MH370 - a 2m wing part known as a flaperon - was washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, which is part of French territory on the east of Madagascar, in July 2015.

Since then a range of debris linked to the aircraft has been found along western Indian Ocean shorelines.

A report released last month by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which is leading the tripartite search involving Australia, Malaysia and China, 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.