Families angered by suspension of MH370 search

Some 30 family members of Chinese passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 gathered near the Beijing airport in protest yesterday, after the nearly three-year-long search for the missing plane was suspended.
Some 30 family members of Chinese passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 gathered near the Beijing airport in protest yesterday, after the nearly three-year-long search for the missing plane was suspended.PHOTO: EPA

Some 30 family members of Chinese passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 gathered near the Beijing airport in protest yesterday, after the nearly three-year-long search for the missing plane was suspended.

"We, of course, disagree with the suspension of the search," said Mr Li Eryou, 60, whose son was on the plane.

"We want them to continue with the search, and allow the family members of every passenger to speak with the Malaysian government directly," the farmer from northern Hebei told reporters.

The governments of Australia, Malaysia and China said in a joint statement on Tuesday that "despite every effort using the best science available... the search has not been able to locate the aircraft".

Flight MH370 disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014. The fate of 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board the Boeing 777 remains unknown.

About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese. Others included 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians and three Americans.

The A$200 million (S$215 million) search covered 120,000 sq km of the southern Indian Ocean and was extended twice.

Family members of the Chinese passengers met a representative of Malaysia Airlines yesterday morning to express their unhappiness and demand further actions.

They told reporters that the airline had offered to let four representatives of the group of several hundred family members go to Kuala Lumpur to meet the Malaysian authorities.

"How can four people represent us? We won't agree to this," said Ms Dai Shuqin, 63, whose younger sister and her family of five were on the plane.

She believes that her family is still alive. "If they don't want to continue with the search, so be it! Just return me my sister," she told The Straits Times.

Among other things, the family members demanded to view footage of passengers boarding the plane to verify that their relatives were indeed on the ill-fated flight.

"For three years, they (the Malaysian authorities) have refused to let us see the video," said Mr Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the plane. "I want to see what my mother looked like at that time. Was she happy? Or was she tired? What was she wearing? I want to know all these."

He also expressed disappointment at the authorities' handling of the decision to terminate the search without informing the relatives ahead of the announcement on Tuesday.

Mr Jiang said the family members have arranged to meet the Chinese Foreign Ministry tomorrow afternoon to seek further assistance.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2017, with the headline 'Families angered by suspension of MH370 search'. Print Edition | Subscribe