As families prepare to mark the third anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 today, the final resting place of the aircraft's main body remains a mystery.
So far, only minor wreckage has been found, meaning relatives of the victims are still uncertain of where their loved ones died.
"We do not want it to be the case that MH370 vanishes without a trace," said Grace Subathirai Nathan, a Malaysian lawyer whose mother was aboard the Boeing-777.
"Planes can be replaced, but 239 lives can't," she said.
The plane, which went missing on March 8, 2014 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board, is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.
"As the days roll into weeks and weeks into months, it becomes less about finding closure and more about being something to learn from. We should not let something like this happen again," Nathan said.
Noting that a new Boeing-777 costs around US$300 million, Nathan said the official search effort has so far cost only half of that - around US$150 million.
It was halted in January after an underwater sweep of some 120,000 sq km turned up no signs of the plane's main body. Malaysia, Australia and China were jointly involved in carrying out the underwater search efforts.
Families say they are not ready to concede that the missing plane is hopelessly lost, even as they insist that governments should continue to finance search operations.
"We are going to continue the search if the governments don't resume it, and that will only be confirmed when the current findings and data have been analysed," Nathan said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Joint Action Coordination Centre have been regularly updating families on their latest findings and data, the families say.
Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said last week at an MH370 remembrance event that funding was not an obstacle. He said financial support would be provided as long as there was credible new evidence regarding search areas.
Until now, 27 pieces of debris - including two pieces found in South Africa two weeks ago - have been found with links to MH370.
Blaine Alan Gibson, a US private investigator, has privately led search efforts and has been involved in some debris findings.
"I just did it because it needed to be done and nobody else was doing it at that point," he told DPA.
"We need to know that when we get on a plane we are just not going to disappear," he said.
"If we are not looking underwater - right now that's not happening - we are not going to find the black boxes. We need to know the crash site and [we need to find] heavy underwater debris to solve this."
Families have been supportive of his efforts, Gibson said.
"They want the truth whatever it is, and I care about them. I care about their loved ones. They have become sort of my family and have been a great inspiration to me to solve this mystery," he said.
- DPA, AAP