The agony goes on for MH370 relatives after debris confirmation

Relatives of Chinese passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were stopped by police officers from going up to the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing, China, on Aug 5, 2015.
Relatives of Chinese passengers of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were stopped by police officers from going up to the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing, China, on Aug 5, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Emotional relatives of those aboard doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Thursday said they hoped the first proof that it crashed will help finally solve the agonising mystery, but many also expressed anger and disbelief.

Long-suffering families of the 239 passengers have been waiting since March 8 last year for the first evidence of what happened to the Boeing 777, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

They have struggled with a desire for closure while holding onto slim hopes that those on board might still be alive, and have also strongly criticised Malaysia's handling of the disaster.

Most of those on the plane were Chinese and many still refuse to believe their loved ones are dead, despite Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announcement that wreckage found on the French Indian Ocean island La Reunion was from the jet.

"I don't believe this latest information about the plane, they have been lying to us from the beginning," said Zhang Yongli, whose daughter was on the flight.

"I know my daughter is out there, but they won't tell us the truth," he added.

Bao Lanfang, whose grandson was also on the plane, told reporters: "Everyone has been lying to us", before collapsing on the floor and crying outside the Beijing offices of Malaysia Airlines.

"I will do anything to see him again," the 63-year-old added through her tears.

Some families said the confirmation was not enough to lay the matter to rest, and demanded to know why the plane went off course, flying for hours after its communications and tracking systems were shut down.

Najib, whose government has been accused by next-of-kin of a possible cover-up and insensitive treatment of families - charges that have been vehemently denied - gave no indication that analysis of the debris yielded any clues as to the cause of the disappearance.

"Now I want to know where the main body of the plane is so that we can take out the passengers and get the black box so we can know what happened. Only that, for us, will be full closure," said Malaysian Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 chief steward Patrick Gomes.

Fellow Malaysian G. Subramaniam, who lost his son S. Puspanathan, said investigators must now look for more debris.

"We want the authorities to expand the search area closer to Africa where the debris was found to look for the main body and the passengers," he told AFP.

Sara Weeks, the sister of New Zealand passenger Paul Weeks, welcomed news that debris had finally been found, but said it was "pretty disgusting" that she heard about the confirmation from a reporter and not Malaysian authorities.

But she said the latest development simply brought back all the painful memories of losing her brother.

"Anytime anything happens, it takes you right back to the beginning, the same feelings, same everything, but again this time it has been a week of turmoil and that's going to continue for some time," Weeks told the Fairfax New Zealand media group.

There were six Australians on board the flight, including Rodney and Mary Burrows from Queensland, who were on a long-planned holiday to celebrate their retirement.

Rodney's father George Burrows said he was expecting confirmation the debris was from the jet, but still wants answers about what actually happened.

"Well, it's news and we hope we might find some more answers but a bit doubtful," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "But anyway, it's better than nothing." Like Weeks, he said the worst part was the emotions boiling up to the surface once again, making it difficult to move on, particularly for his three grandchildren who lost their parents.

"We're just getting over things and you know, the kids were starting to accept it... then this happens and they're back to square one." But for Elaine Chew, whose husband Tan Size Hiang was a member of the plane's crew, the announcement has brought little relief.

"Where is my husband's body? Have any passengers' belongings been found? No. It's just a piece that they found," she told AFP.

"No, this is not closure for me."