MH370 families raise funds to find ‘whistleblower’
Frustrated families of missing passengers aboard a doomed Malaysia Airlines jet are appealing for internet donations to pay for a US$5 million (HK$38.8 million) whistle-blower fund to find the plane.
The "Reward MH370" campaign, launched on crowdfunding website Indiegogo three months after the disappearance, is encouraging insiders "to come forward with information … in an effort to find the truth".
"We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward," said Ethan Hunt, who is leading the online financing for a group of families from Australia, the United States, India and France.
Watch: What we know about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Of the 239 passengers and crew on board, two-thirds of them are Chinese.
Although the plane is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean near Australia, an extensive search by rescue planes and vessels has failed to uncover wreckage or clues, triggering accusations among families of a conspiracy.
Sarah Bajc, partner of American passenger Philip Wood, said a handful of families were behind the campaign to look at the unprecedented aviation mystery with "a fresh set of eyes".
"Governments and agencies have given it their best shot but have failed to turn up a single shred of evidence, either because of a faulty approach or due to intentional misdirection by one or more individuals," she said.
"Without a new tactic, the truth and the plane will never be found."
Meanwhile, the Australian government, which is leading the search far off its western coast, last week turned to search and salvage specialists to take on the task of finding the plane, funded by a A$50 million (HK$360 million) pot set aside by Canberra.
Designed to speed up the search, a company will take on the role of supplying experts and specialist equipment capable of diving to 6,000 metres.
From August, the winning bidder has 300 days to go underwater and scour 60,000 sq km, based on where the aircraft last communicated with an Inmarsat satellite.
Malaysia has borne the brunt of criticism from upset relatives.
But the Southeast Asian country has insisted it will not give up the search and says it is cooperating with Australia and China to track down flight MH370.
An earlier version of the story included a miscalculated figure for the HK dollar equivalent of the US$ 5 million fund mentioned in the first paragraph.