Grieving families of passengers on board of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have launched a campaign to raise $15m to continue the search for the aircraft.
The 239 people on board are still missing after the Boeing 777 went missing on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, nearly three years ago.
In January, authorities in Australia, Malaysia and China jointly called off the underwater search after the two-year hunt ended without finding a trace of the plane – leaving families with no answers.
But Malaysian lawyer Grace Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy was on the plane, said the families hope to raise $15 million to fund an initial search north of the previous search area.
The previous $160m search swept across an area of 120,000sq km (46,000sq m) in remote waters west of Australia.
This comes after officials investigating the plane’s disappearance recommended search crews head north to a new area identified in a recent analysis as a possible crash site. But the Australian government has already vetoed the idea.
“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,” said Ms Nathan at the campaign launch and MH370 memorial event held in Kuala Lumpur.
Last year, Governments of China, Australia and Malaysia, which have all helped fund the search, said they would resume the investigation if any credible evidence on the whereabouts of the plane emerges.
International experts assisted Voice 370, a support group for the relatives of the victims, to organise their own search along the East African coast where debris had been discovered.
“They pinpointed to us accurately where the debris would have made landfall. They’ve been very helpful both on a personal level and to the investigation,” Ms Nathan said.
The memorial event, the first since the search was suspended, saw relatives of the late passengers make impassioned pleas for the search to continue.
Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the plane, told the audience about his experience discovering a piece of potential MH370 debris in Madagascar last year.
“I thought it was very miraculous and fortunate when I found the piece of debris that day, but I thought it was useless because this sort of searching activity should have been done by the government.
“It should not be us, the family members, who should have been subjected to this pain, to go and face this cruel reality,” said Mr Hui, who had travelled from China to attend the memorial.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said authorities had analysed 27 pieces of potential MH370 debris along the East African coastline, including two new pieces found in South Africa two weeks ago.
The government has also signed several agreements with countries along the East African coastline to coordinate searches for debris.