Asia-Pacific

Monday 28 July 2014

Lost jet families in online cash plea to fund probe into mystery

Jonathan Pearlman

Published 09/06/2014|02:30

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Australian airman during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370
Australian airman during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

AUSTRALIAN relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight have launched a $5m (€3.4m) crowd-funding campaign to hire private investigators and reward any whistleblower who comes forward with information about the plane's disappearance.

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As the search for debris moves to a new uncertain phase covering a vast stretch of the Indian Ocean, some of the distraught families used the three-month anniversary of the disappearance of the Boeing 777 to launch a 'Reward MH370' campaign to try to unearth new clues. Despite intensive investigation, authorities have been unable to explain why the plane carrying 239 passengers made a sudden turn westward on March 8 and vanished.

Sarah Bajc, whose American partner Philip Wood was onboard the plane, said a group of families wanted to approach the mystery with "a fresh set of eyes". They plan to raise the money on fundraising website Indiegogo and use $3m as a reward and $2m on private investigators.

"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," Ms Bajc said in a statement.

Some families have accused authorities of a cover-up. Ethan Hunt, a technology company chief heading the campaign, said: "We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something. We hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward."

The failure to find wreckage or confirm the plane's whereabouts despite a massive international search has sparked numerous claims, sightings and conspiracy theories.

Mike McKay, a New Zealander who said he spotted the plane while working on an oil rig off the coast of Vietnam, was reportedly fired for making the claim. He emailed his employer with the claim but was concerned no action was being taken and contacted Vietnamese authorities and the New Zealand embassy.

The alleged sighting, reported soon after the plane went missing, was reported widely in world media.

Mr McKay said that his contractor and rig owner, Songa Offshore, released him from his contract five days early and did not re-hire him after it was inundated with calls which blocked its communications.

"This became intolerable for them and I was removed from the rig and not invited back," he told a New Zealand newspaper.

His sighting was largely discounted as it is at odds with radar sightings which indicate the plane travelled west and then south, rather than to Beijing, its intended destination. Authorities in Australia believe the flight ended in the south Indian Ocean.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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