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Chinese MH370 relatives renew pressure on Malaysia envoy

Published on Mar 26, 2014 7:45 PM
 
Malaysian ambassador Iskandar Sarudin answers questions from Chinese relatives of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during a briefing at Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. Frustrated relatives of Chinese passengers aboard missing flight MH370 demanded answers from the Malaysian ambassador for a second-consecutive day on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, with some openly insulting him at a Beijing hotel. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (AFP) - Frustrated relatives of Chinese passengers aboard missing flight MH370 demanded answers from the Malaysian ambassador for a second-consecutive day on Wednesday, with some openly insulting him at a Beijing hotel.

"All the things that were promised, we have received nothing. Was the ambassador talking out of the other end of his body - was he talking out of his arse?" one relative said. His comments drew applause from other family members, querying why some of the help previously provided by Kuala Lumpur to the families in Beijing had been withdrawn.

The ambassador, Mr Iskandar Sarudin, explained that Malaysian administrators had been withdrawn from the hotel at the request of the Chinese authorities as "emotions had been running high" after Prime Minister Najib Razak said satellite data suggested the flight had gone down in the southern Indian Ocean.

But his words did little to soothe the angry relatives and some accused him of having "unfounded" prejudices against Chinese people.

Two-thirds of the 239 people on board the missing aircraft are Chinese citizens.

The showdown at Beijing's Lido Hotel came a day after scores of emotional family members descended on the Malaysian Embassy, linking arms and denouncing Kuala Lumpur after Datuk Seri Najib's announcement.

Many of the 300 relatives who crowded the briefing room for Wednesday's meeting - which lasted more than four hours - accused senior Malaysian officials of announcing the plane's loss without firm evidence.

"There is no sign of the plane, so for what reasons are you so ready to confirm that it has crashed?" one man shouted angrily at the panel, made up of the Malaysian ambassador and military and transport chiefs.

"We demand you retract that the plane has crashed into the sea," another said furiously.

About 15 uniformed security personnel surrounded the panel, with another 25 standing guard at the rear of the room.

The Malaysian officials said they had relied on evidence from the Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch and British satellite company Inmarsat, and gave a presentation on the findings - to which some family members responded with derision.

"You have paid all this money for a rubbish report, and they are pulling a fast one on you!" one man shouted angrily to applause.

"Have you got no other information other than those bloody slides?" said another.

Many family members gathered at Wednesday's briefing continued to cling to conspiracy theories as well as the hope that the lack of physical evidence might mean their loved ones are still alive.

At one point, a lieutenant general of the Royal Malaysian Air Force told the crowd he had not ruled out any possibility, including hijacking.

"If you have not ruled out any possibility, that includes the possibility that our loved ones are alive, right?" one relative asked to cheers.

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