A candle burns a prayer message for passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia Mohd Rasfan/ AFP

The Chinese families of those on board the missing Malaysian Airline MH370 are clinging on to a conspiracy theory put forward by science writer and author Jeff Wise. They still believe that their loved ones may still be alive.

Dismissing a statement from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on 19 April that two additional debris found off Africa are "almost certainly" from the missing aircraft, some of the family members instead point to Wise's "evidence" of the illusory nature of the debris recovered so far.

MH370 was on a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board when it vanished. The fuselage of the Boeing 777 has yet to be found.

The ATSB had identified the two items of debris that were independently found on the Mozambique coast but about 220km apart as:

  • A flap track fairing segment, almost certainly from the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777, registered 9M-MRO. The board said that the panel conformed to the applicable Boeing drawings and that the 676EB conformed to that developed and used by Malaysia Airlines during painting operations.
  • A horizontal stabiliser panel segment, almost certainly from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing aircraft, registered 9M-MRO.
Missing MH370
ATSB says debris was a horizontal stabiliser panel segement. ATSB

ATSB said that the marine ecology identification as well as testing material samples are ongoing. "The results of these tests will be provided to the Malaysian investigation team once complete."

In his post, Wise claims that the ATSB had sidestepped the "debris-planting issue", claiming that its wordings in the report were "ambiguous" He noted that the ATSB had said that the fastener head markings identified the manufacturer but noted that the manufacturer's fasteners were not used in current production, but did match the fasteners used in assembly of the aircraft next in the product line to the 9M-MRO.

"If the fastener wasn't used when 9M-MRO was built, one wonders what it is doing in this piece. Hopefully the ATSB will clarify what it means," Wise noted.

He also questioned why the detailed report on the marine life found on debris will be sent to Malaysia rather than released to the public. "Why does Australia feel empowered to release a fairly detailed report explaining why they think the pieces came from 9M-MRO, but not to say anything about the marine life on them? Is there a legal distinction between these two kinds of assessment, as pertains to ICAO protocols," he asked.

In a statement emailed to IBTimes UK, some of the Chinese families said that they agreed with Wise's analysis questioning the debris found so far near the coast of Africa. They reiterated their belief that the missing passengers "may still be alive."

They also asked for countries involved to offer amnesty to parties who are holding the passengers in exchange for their release. "An extensive surface search and ocean floor search have found no supporting evidence MH370 crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean."

"We believe our missing loved ones may still be alive," they say, alleging that there has been a "wholesale attempt at deception" over the missing MH370.

Search for MH370 enters final stage

Meanwhile in an update issued on 27 April, ATSB said around 20,000 square kilometers of seafloor remains to be searched. So far, more than 100,000 square kilometres have also been scoured.

"Consistent with the undertaking given by the Governments of Australia, Malaysia and the People's Republic of China in April last year, 120,000 square kilometres will be thoroughly searched. It is anticipated this will be completed around the middle of the year.

"In the absence of credible new information that leads to the identification of a specific location of the aircraft, governments have agreed that there will be no further expansion of the search area," the ATSB statement said.

Currently, Fugro Discovery, Fugro Equator and China's Dong Hai Jiu 101 are involved in the search operations. The Chinese vessel is currently in the Fremantle port while the recovered SLH-ProSAS-60 deep tow system is being checked and tested.