Give us back our families, Chinese relatives demand
Published on Mar 19, 2014 8:07 PM
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Angry Chinese relatives of passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines plane burst into a media centre near Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, unfurling a banner protesting Malaysia's handling of the crisis until they were bundled out by security.
Amid chaotic scenes, the relatives were besieged by camera-wielding reporters awaiting the start of a daily press briefing by Malaysian officials on the search for the missing aircraft.
Shouting and crying, they unfurled a banner that accused the Malaysian authorities of withholding information and not doing enough to find the plane.
"Give us back our families," the banner said.
"They give different messages every day. Where's the flight now? We can't stand it anymore," one woman wailed.
Twelve days after the disappearance of Flight MH370, frustrations among anguished relatives have grown as multinational efforts have failed to find any trace of the plane and the 239 people aboard, including 153 Chinese.
Security intervened to stop the uproar at the Kuala Lumpur briefing room - located in a hotel near Malaysia's international airport.
The family members were bundled out of the room, with two of them having to be physically carried out, still protesting and shouting.
"I fully understand what they're going through. Emotions are high," Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the briefing that began shortly afterwards.
"I hope and I appeal to everybody that though we understand their concerns, we are trying our very best."
At a hotel in Beijing, tensions also boiled over at a daily meeting between company officials and family members.
"We do not have any other way of dealing with this other than to be angry and to cry. Your way of dealing with it is either lying or playing a shameful role," one relative shouted, waving his arms furiously at a representative from the airline.
"Look what we have been talking about today - trivial matters," the man shouted angrily. "What are we coming here for? We just want to know where our relatives are and where the plane is."
The questioning from relatives was briefly interrupted as a noisy row erupted at one of the airline's administration desks.
A woman marched to the front of the hall demanding to know why she had to present her marriage certificate to prove her husband was on the plane, in order to get a room at the hotel.
"My husband was on board, and our relatives have had nowhere to stay for two days!" the woman shouted as other family members encouraged her to confront the airline official.
Amid angry exchanges one of her male relatives lunged aggressively at the neck of a man he believed to be an airline administrator, and another shouted: "What sort of person would pretend that their husband is on board the plane?"
Malaysia Airlines on Wednesday issued a statement, reiterating it was doing what it could to keep the families informed, having opened hotlines and offering counselling services.