Yesterday, five distraught relatives of passengers from still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 announced that they will issue a (not-yet-raised) $5 million reward to anyone who can offer information on the plane's whereabouts. Frustrated by the government's inability to make nearly any headway on the location of MH370, which flew off the radar three months ago, the five decided to launch an online campaign to search for the truth. They wrote in a statement:
In an effort to find the truth, a team made up of family members and individuals with specialist skills are launching a campaign on www.indiegogo.com to raise $5,000,000 to provide for a reward, and the private investigation services necessary to follow up on submitted leads. The reward will be paid to the person or firm who provides the information that leads to the recovery of MH370 and all on board.
Project leader Ethan Hunt stated that the group has put more faith in crowd-sourcing than government officials, saying "“Utilizing the immense potential of the crowd we believe we can achieve our primary goal of recovering the flight where others methods have failed in the past." K.S. Narendran, whose wife was on board the plane, said "Without the truth, families cannot move on with their lives. We need closure. The world needs closure.”
The members of the team added that the $5 million goal is contingent on how well the indiegogo funding effort goes, and that the reward will be higher if they are able to raise more. Since the campaign launched yesterday morning, about $5,800 has been raised. The group said that "credible leads will be pursued and validated by a professional investigation firm licensed to operate in multiple countries, and with an extensive global network. They will work with the authorities to pursue the physical recovery of the plane," and that a secure website will launch on June 15 to collect lead submissions.
The group's frustration is understandable: not only have government officials failed to find any debris from the flight, which was presumed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but now they are completely reconfiguring their search. Last month, searchers reported that they had been looking for remains of MH370 in the wrong place, adding that pings they had detected and thought were from the plane's satellite devices were most likely coming from something else altogether. Authorities said they were putting the search on hold until they have a better idea of where the plane could be. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that officials are again reconsidering the search parameters:
The latest rethinking on the search area, people familiar with the matter said, reflects inescapable uncertainties about the speed, flight path and altitude of the Boeing 777... changing the assumed speed, trajectory and altitude, though, can result in sharply divergent underwater search areas, possibly taking teams significantly south or southwest from where they focused their efforts in May.
Australia has joined Malaysia in leading the search, which it has repeatedly referred to — sometimes defensively — as one of the hardest in aviation history:
We imagine that most of the leads submitted won't be of much help to the group, but by now it's hard to see amateur theories being much less credible than official ones.