As the third anniversary of the disappearance of Flight MH370 loom, families of some of those missing say they hope to raise up to $50m (£47m) to continue the search.

The hunt for the vanished plane was called off in January 2017, but families of the 239 people aboard still hope to find out what happened and solve probably the biggest aviation mystery of all time.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur towards Beijing on 8 March 2014. The Boeing 777's last contact with flight controllers took place less than an hour after takeoff.

A huge search of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean off south-west Australia failed to find any trace of the plane. The search is estimated to have cost £133m ($163m).

In July 2015 part of a right wing washed up at Reunion, off east Africa. Since then more than 20 bits of debris confirmed or believed to be from MH370 have turned up in Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar and elsewhere.

The three countries involved in the search – China, Malaysia and Australia – said in January 2017 they will only resume the search of credible information arises to help it. Now families of those aboard say they are considering raising money to fund a search themselves.

At a memorial service in Kuala Lumpur Malaysian lawyer Grace Nathan, whose mother Anne Daisy is one of those missing, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We won't start fundraising until we're sure that the governments are not going to resume the search and until the current data has been fully reviewed and analyzed."

The families want the focus of the search to be east Africa, including Madagascar, where Jiang Hui, whose mother was aboard, found debris apparently from MH370 in 2016.

"I thought it was very miraculous and fortunate when I found the piece of debris that day, but I thought it was useless because this sort of searching activity should have been done by the government," said Jiang.

A number of theories have arisen to try and explain what happened, including mechanical failure, deliberate actions by one or both pilots and bizarre conspiracy theories. Three years after its disappearance, the fate of Flight MH370 remains a complete mystery, causing untold anguish for the families of the 239 missing passengers and crew.

MH370 families mourn
Wang Yulian, whose daughter was among passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing in 2014, is comforted by others as relatives arrive for a meeting with the airline representatives in Beijing, China on 18 January 2017 REUTERS/Damir Sagolj