Chinese relatives of MH370 passengers stage protest outside Malaysia Airlines office in KL

The mother of a passenger of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 holding a picture of her grandson outside the Malaysia Airlines headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
The mother of a passenger of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 holding a picture of her grandson outside the Malaysia Airlines headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Chinese relatives of those on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protested outside the carrier's office on Thursday demanding Malaysia withdraw a statement declaring all the passengers dead.

The Malaysian government last month officially listed the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 as an accident and said all 239 people on board had perished in a move it said would pave the way for compensation claims.

However, the announcement immediately sparked outrage among distraught family members who have shunned offers of compensation.

About 15 people gathered outside the airline's gates under a hot sun on Thursday wearing white caps and red T-shirts bearing the words: "Pray for MH370."

They held placards in English reading: "Who can tell us what happened", "Come back MH370" and "Today it is us, Tomorrow it could be you."

They said they wanted to meet Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhhari Yahya.

Malaysia Airlines officials later transported the protesters to the nearby Subang Airport and gave them lunch.Later, three representatives of the Chinese group were ushered away in a van to meet Mr Ahmad Jauhari.One of the representatives, Mr Wen Wan Shen, whose only son Yung Sheng was on the plane, told reporters that the meeting lasted for 30 minutes and that they handed a letter to Mr Ahmad Jauhari demanding that the declaration of accident be overturned as there is no credible evidence.Mr Wen, 63, said Malaysia Airlines should pay the families who are struggling with their livelihoods after losing their loved ones and that they will escalate their demands to other officials, including Prime

"My husband was on the flight. We want the Malaysia government to cancel the declaration that they made," Ms Kelly Wen, wife of a Chinese passenger who was only identified as Li, told AFP.

More Chinese families of MH370 victims are expected to arrive this week in Malaysia ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Many families are angry that the authorities decided on the fate of their family members without consulting them, some still clinging to the hope that their loved ones may still be alive.

They have previously also accused the authorities of failing to keep them updated on the search for the aircraft.

MH370 disappeared on March 8, 2014 after inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course.

The airliner is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off western Australia but no trace has been found.

Chinese passengers accounted for about two-thirds of the 239 people who were aboard the Boeing 777.

Australia has been spearheading the hunt for the plane.