The families of some passengers aboard the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $5 million as a reward for information about the missing aircraft.
The campaign was launched on the website Indiegogo on Sunday (June 8), exactly three months after the plane disappeared from radar en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
"This mystery is unprecedented in the history of aviation, and we need to work as a collective community with one goal of finding the truth, the plane and the passengers, said Ethan Hunt, a private investigator involved in the Reward MH370 initiative, according to the campaign website. "We are convinced that somewhere, someone knows something, and we hope this reward will entice him or her to come forward."
The campaign is led by five family members of passengers on the missing flight, as well as two people with fundraising and private investigation experience (including Hunt). So far, the month-long campaign has raised $6,300 of its $5 million goal.
The official search for the missing aircraft has had many false leads. The most recent phase of the search took place in the Southern Indian Ocean, where satellite data suggested the flight likely crashed thousands of miles off course. But a massive underwater search failed to find any sign of the aircraft, and families of the passengers have turned to crowdfunding to find answers.
"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," said Sarah Bajc, partner of passenger Philip Wood, according to the site.
However, the crowdfunding efforts will not be in opposition to the official investigation, representatives for the campaign said on the site. "We hope to plug doubts, overcome shortcomings, and improve the number of actionable leads" forward in the search for MH370, they wrote.
The MH370 search is set to become the most costly in aviation history, possibly running into the hundreds of millions of dollars, Reuters reported. Malaysia has spent a total of $8.6 million so far, authorities said today, though that doesn't include what other countries have spent on recovery efforts.
At least $44 million was spent during the first month of the search on deployment of military ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea by Australia, China, the United States and Vietnam, Reuters reported. And as of May, Australia had budgeted about $84 million ($90 million AUD) to locate the missing plane, according to The Australian.