With US$15m startup fund, MH370 kin to continue private search for missing loved ones


KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — A private search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and all its 239 people on board is continuing after three years even as the governments of Malaysia, Australia and China suspended their operations.

The families and friends of Flight MH370 have managed to put together some US$15 million to fund their initiative and have been talking to some global experts and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) for advice on going forward.

“We are already talking to experts, one person is David Gallo who found Air France. We are speaking to ATSB and all say that they will support us,” Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy was a passenger on the aircraft, told reporters today in a gathering of the MH370 families here to remember their missing loved ones.

Next of kin of the passengers on the missing MH370 attend the Day of Remembrance for MH370 event at Publika, in Kuala Lumpur, March 4, 2017. — Picture by Kamles Kumar

Gallo is the world’s leading oceanographer who found Air France Flight 447 in 2011.

“We have gotten some positive responses and we are now working on the preliminary timeline. So, we hope that will shape up more in days to come,” Grace added.

She said the families of the passengers and crew aboard the plane have yet iron out the details of the fund’s use as they first want to get a plan into place with the support of the Australian, Chinese and Malaysian governments.

“We won’t start fundraising until we’re sure that the governments are not going to resume the search and until the current data has been fully reviewed and analysed.

“We’re still waiting for the credible evidence the governments are looking for,” she said.

The next of kin group known as Voice 370 have been advised to approach aviation industry experts too for their help.

“We are also told by the people we have been speaking too that the first people they will approach is people in the aviation industry, people with deep pockets,” Grace said.

Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai who attended the remembrance gathering at Publika organised by Voice 370 said Putrajaya supports the alternative search operation and will try to help any way it can.

“We leave it to them, everybody can come in and help. We welcome everybody’s help. Everyone has its own way of helping, we will also raise it up with the respective governments and look into various avenues,” Liow said.

For Australian Amanda Lawton, whose parents Katheryn and Robert were on board the flight, the search for the plane so far has been a frustrating and heart-breaking one.

“It’s been frustrating because they’ve been searching at the same area for so many times, when they actually announced that the aircraft could potentially be in the north zone.

“I guess there was a lot of hope that they would continue the search based on that information, so yeah it was pretty heart-breaking,” she told reporters here.

Liow announced in January that the search operation for MAS Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean had been suspended after three years since the plane went missing on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.