CHINA / SOCIETY
Families of missing MH370 passengers mull foundation for continuing search seven years after tragedy
Published: Mar 08, 2021 03:33 PM
A private search for Flight MH370 will end in the coming days, an exploration firm said Tuesday, some four years after the plane disappeared in one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.

A private search for Flight MH370 will end in the coming days, an exploration firm said Tuesday, some four years after the plane disappeared in one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries.



On the seventh anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 falling on Wednesday, relatives of the missing Chinese passengers are planning to set up a foundation to offer rewards for continuing the search.

Seven years on, they have not yet given up their efforts of finding their loved ones.

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished in March 2014 with 239 people on board - mostly from China - en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

No traces of it were found in a 120,000 square kilometer Indian Ocean search radius, and the Australian-led hunt, the largest in aviation history, stopped in January 2017.

More than 60 people, including some of the relatives of those on board, Malaysian Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, and the Investigation Group members, gathered online on Sunday due to strict border controls amid COVID-19 to mark the anniversary of the jet's disappearance.

Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the ill-fated plane, is the main creator of the special foundation plan. 

Over the past seven years, searching for the missing MH370 has been his full-time job. As a representative of his family, he hopes to promote the establishment of the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Foundation to raise reward money for the continual search and eventual discovery of the plane's whereabouts, along with the whereabouts of their loved ones. 

The fund can be used to gather evidence, reward informants, hire lawyers and analysts, and conduct voluntary searches, to mobilize the search efforts in a more professional and organized way, Jiang suggested.

Most of the family members are very supportive, especially the older family members, who regarded the fund as a hope that keeps the search continuing. With this foundation, these victims' families can work closer toward a common goal, Jiang told the Global Times.

The size of the fund is initially expected to reach 10 or 20 million yuan ($1.5-3 million), but that is far less than the cost of search efforts that may cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

A report in 2020 said the international search for MH370 had cost more than $200 million (1.3 billion yuan), covered a radius of 120,000 square meters of possible territory, but yielded no tangible results.

"We don't have any more resources or weapons. The only thing we have is time and persistence," Jiang said.

The foundation's initial funds will come from some of the families' compensation, Jiang told the Global Times. But there are still about two-thirds of the Chinese families who have not signed Indemnity Agreements with Malaysia Airlines and none of these families have received any compensation of approximately 2 million yuan.

Among them are many rural, elderly people who lost their children, and after losing their family's main breadwinner, they have been living on the government subsidies.

But they still make expensive monthly trips to Beijing to plead their case at the Malaysia Airlines' Beijing office.

For them, many of their basic demands, like a Chinese-language version of the survey report and continued psychological counseling for the families, have not been met.

Relatives of the victims of missing Malaysia Airlines fligt MH370 attend the 6th Annual MH370 Remembrance Event on March 7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event is organized by Voice370, the Association of Family Members of Passengers and Crew on board MH370. Photo: Courtesy of Voice370

Relatives of the victims of missing Malaysia Airlines fligt MH370 attend the 6th Annual MH370 Remembrance Event on March 7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event is organized by Voice370, the Association of Family Members of Passengers and Crew on board MH370. Photo: Courtesy of Voice370

So far, only a few fragments of MH370 have been recovered, all of them on western Indian Ocean shores. 

In mid-February, a three-feet piece of wreckage came ashore near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, according to media reports. 

The self-styled investigator who found it believes it's part of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, and likely to be part of a spoiler wing panel used to reduce lift.

Jiang said the piece of debris is now almost certain to be from MH370 based on the initial conclusion of the investigation group.

It's reportedly being held by the South African Civil Aviation Authority with Malaysian authorities having been notified 10 days ago.


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