KUALA LUMPUR • Relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are taking the search for the plane into their own hands to try and push governments to expand the search area along the east African coast.
Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, sparking a search in the southern Indian Ocean that entered its 1,000th day yesterday.
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.
Ms Grace Subathirai Nathan, the spokesman for Voice 370, a next-of-kin support group, was among four Malaysians, two Chinese nationals and a Frenchman who left for Madagascar yesterday to hunt for debris and raise awareness of the plane among local communities and organisations.
Ms Nathan, whose mother was on the plane, said she hoped the trip would help spur the Malaysian, Chinese and Australian governments into collecting debris along the continental coast, where parts from the missing aircraft had been found.
NO LETTING UP
After repeated attempts, and repeated requests for a mobilisation of a search along the coastline, nothing has been done. So it has fallen into our hands to take this search upon ourselves.
MS GRACE SUBATHIRAI NATHAN, spokesman for support group Voice 370.
"After repeated attempts, and repeated requests for a mobilisation of a search along the coastline, nothing has been done," she told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
"So it has fallen into our hands to take this search upon ourselves."
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 also examining several other pieces that were found in Mozambique and South Africa.
"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," Ms Nathan said. "There is still a lot at stake."