Relatives of some of the 239 passengers and crew on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 arrived in Madagascar Saturday to ask for help in the search for debris from the missing aircraft that may have drifted across the Indian Ocean.
Half a dozen relatives traveled to Antananarivo, Madagascar's capital, ahead of meetings with community leaders and a journey to coastal areas to talk to villagers about the plane, which vanished in 2014.
"We hope that we can raise awareness, teach them about how to identify debris, how to collect debris, what to do with it when they find it," said Grace Nathan, a Malaysian whose mother was on the flight.
The Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean after deviating from its flight path from Malaysia to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
"Mobilizing the local population is a good start," said Nathan.
Nathan and her fellow travelers plan to talk to church leaders and non-governmental groups that can spread the word in rural communities that are "not so savvy with the Internet" and might not even have heard about the missing plane.
The relatives who arrived in Madagascar included Malaysians and Chinese who flew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They were met at the airport by Blaine Gibson, an American who found a piece of debris in Mozambique that officials say was almost certainly a horizontal stabilizer from a Flight 370 wing. He has also collected pieces of potential debris in Madagascar.
A Frenchman who lost family members on the missing flight was expected to join the group of relatives after arriving on a separate flight.
Malaysia, Australia and China are close to suspending a search of a vast area of seabed in the southern Indian Ocean, but relatives of the missing believe the discovery of debris in Africa by Gibson and others justifies calls for officials to keep looking.
"We want to keep the search going," Nathan said.