Hundreds of relatives of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers marched to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing Tuesday, rejecting the government’s conclusion that the flight crashed into the Indian Ocean with no survivors. Chinese relatives, who are furious that Malaysia has declared their loved ones lost in a plane crash without physical evidence, marched to the Embassy.
On the other hand, the Chinese government demanded that Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to state that Malaysia Airlines Flight went down in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors.
153 Chinese nationals were among the flight’s 239 passengers, making the incident highly emotional for Beijing. Approximately, 100 relatives and supporters marched to the embassy resulting in a heavy police presence and brief scuffle when some relatives tried to get past police to approach journalists. Nevertheless, no effort was made to break up the demonstration and the group presented a letter of protest to the embassy before departing.
In Monday night’s announcement, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that an unparalleled study of the jet’s last-known signals to a satellite showed that the missing plane veered “to a remote location, far from any possible landing sites.” The conclusions were based on a more thorough analysis of the brief signals the plane sent every hour to a satellite belonging to Inmarsat, a British company, even after other communication systems on the jetliner shut down for unknown reasons.
Malaysia Airlines on Tuesday said it was doing everything possible to help the families, and defended itself against criticism over how it informed them about the government’s conclusion that no one aboard the aircraft is still alive. Some relatives were informed by text message.
“Our sole and only motivation last night was to ensure that in the incredibly short amount of time available to us, the families heard the tragic news before the world did,” CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.
“We know that while there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, definitive identification of any piece of debris is still missing. It is impossible to predict how long this will take,” he said. “But after 17 days, the announcement made last night and shared with the families is the reality which we must now accept.”
Monday’s announcement sparked mournful, angry and chaotic scenes at the Beijing hotel where many relatives had gathered. Around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, a group of family members read out a statement accusing Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government and military of procrastination and cover-up.
Calls to the news office for the Beijing Public Security Bureau were unanswered. The police also did not respond to a faxed question about whether family members had obtained police permission.
The search for Flight 370 initially centered on the Malay Peninsula, until authorities there announced they had satellite data showing the plane flew on for hours and went much farther afield, going either north toward Central Asia or south to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.
Nan Jinyan, sister-in-law of Flight 370 passenger Yan Ling, said she suspects Malaysian authorities knew for a long time that the plane went down in the Indian Ocean.
This story is compiled with information from The Associated Press.