Families of 153 passengers on board missing flight MH370 firmly believe their loved ones are alive and they “can be reunited”.
March 8 marks two years since the Malaysia Airlines plane dropped from radar screens, less than one hour into a six-hour flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.
Officially, the 239 passengers and crew, including six Australians, were believed to have been killed when the plane ran out of fuel and crashed into a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, but some refuse to lose hope.
“My sister believes she and her husband can be reunited,” a Beijing-based relative of a Chinese man on board MH370, who preferred not to be named, told The New Daily.
“We are convinced that the plane was hijacked and the passengers are still alive.
“We plead with the hijackers, in a humanitarian spirit, to allow the passengers to be reunited with their families, as soon as possible.”
The man had spent the past 10 years traveling between China and Malaysia for work, and was on his way home when the plane disappeared.
Malaysian air control registered their final communication with the plane about 1.20am, when the pilots sent their final transmission: “all right, good night”.
Vietnamese ground control was to connect with the flight soon after but never heard from them.
Hope of answers surfaced when an MH370 flaperon wing part washed up on a beach at La Réunion Island on July 29, 2015. In the past week, two unidentified aircraft parts have reportedly been found – one near Vilankulos in Mozambique, and another at La Réunion Island.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesperson told The New Daily experts from Australia, Malaysia and manufacturer Boeing would assess the tailfin when it arrived from Mozambique, but it was unclear how long the analysis would take.
He said they were “aware of reports” of a third piece, but could not confirm it.
‘Our lives remain in limbo’
Although there was no official memorial service in Malaysia this year, families held a vigil in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
A statement from Voice370, the association for families of passengers and crew, described the imminent end to the Australian-led government search a “harrowing thought”.
“The unaffected would say two years have gone by so quickly. For us, time has stood still,” the statement read.
“Our lives remain in limbo … the only solution is to find the plane, find out what went wrong and fix it so that this never has to happen to anyone, ever again.”
Australian next-of-kin were among those at the service, including Melbourne’s Jennifer Chong, whose husband Chong Ling Tan was on MH370, and Perth’s Danica Weeks, wife of Paul.
“After June if nothing is found, I hope that the authorities involved in the search will reconsider their decision to terminate, and take the time to re-evaluate the search area,” Ms Chong said, News Corp reported.
Termination of the $180 million search would force feelings of loss back to the surface, according to Grief Institute of Australia executive director Amanda Lambros.
“It is unfortunately going to compound the grief these people are experiencing, that glimmer of hope is still there, but in three months’ time when nobody is doing the official search anymore you feel an additional sense of loss,” she told The New Daily.
“[On the two-year milestone] I think there are a lot of unanswered questions, they are going to be feeling loss or overwhelmed by what they have to do without these people around … a mixed bag of questions and emotions.”
‘We have no choice but to take legal action’
Malaysia Airlines offered families of passengers and crew a $50,000 advance per family as compensation, but for some it could not fill the void.
According to the Montreal Convention, an international aviation agreement, the next-of-kin could access up to $US175,000 ($A237,600) in compensation, but more could be sought when a lawsuit was filed.
Ms Chong recently filed a case with the Australian government, the first to a local court.
On Friday, families of 12 passengers initiated lawsuits suing Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government, ahead of a filing deadline on Tuesday.
“Everyone waited till the last minute to give time to the airline to settle but nothing reasonable was forthcoming. So they have no choice but to take legal action given the time limitation,” lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo, who is representing 10 families, said, AAP reported.