Around 100 families of the passengers aboard flight MH370 protested overnight outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing today to express anger at the “lack of information” about the missing jet.
Many were also angry that high-level Malaysian officials failed to show up for a briefing with the aggrieved families, whom they reportedly promised to update every five days.
“The Malaysian side has broken its promises. We are angry. No update has been made and our loved ones are still missing,” said Steve Wang, a spokesman for the group of families, who estimated the crowd at 100.
The committee of families sent a formal request demanding the Malaysian government to release details on missing jet and peacefully left the embassy around 6pm today, after weather forecasts indicated it would rain.
Among the 239 passengers onboard the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight, 154 came from China.
The relatives, who have held out hope that the passengers can still be found and who have opposed Malaysian government plans to issue death certificates, said they waited for hours yesterday from 3pm till midnight at the Lido Hotel in Beijing for high-ranking officials to arrive.
According to the committee for families, in their last meeting, a secretary from the Malaysian embassy curtly told the families they should not ask him questions “if you don’t believe me”. The families refused to speak to this representative and demanded a replacement for last night's briefing.
“Several times they said that their two officials would come,” one woman told the South China Morning Post.
“After nine hours, no-one showed up. We were helpless. Some proposed to go to Malaysian embassy and people followed,” she said. Others chose to wait at the hotel for updates.
When they reached the embassy, the families resolved that for every half hour that passed, they would shout, “Give me back my loved ones!”
Police barred the protesters from coming too close last night, but there were no reported scuffles. Embassy staff were not immediately available for comment.
Due to the cold temperatures, the women and elderly were handed blankets borrowed from the hotel, where the families are housed at Malaysia Airlines’ expense since after the aircraft’s March 8 disappearance.
“We are very tired after spending a sleepless night,” the female relative said. “We were hungry and asked the embassy if there was food. But they denied it. So we had to call for help on Weibo. Someone volunteered to deliver us food.
“Now the majority members are still waiting outside of the embassy. We decided to stay as long as we needed,” she said.
Frustration has been mounting among the relatives 49 days on, with previous regular briefings seeing the families shout or throw water bottles at Malaysian Airlines and government officials.
Search and rescue operations, aided by the militaries of several countries, have not yielded any signs of wreckage in the Southern Indian Ocean, where experts say it crashed, or even the airplane’s black-box cockpit voice recordings, which could provide answers about why the plane veered off course and disappeared.
As governments and search authorities confront more questions than answers, the Chinese relatives have refused to accept the official conclusion that the airplane crashed at sea.
“We want truth. It sounded like a lie that the plane ended in the Indian Ocean. What does that even mean? No trace of remains of the plane or passengers?” the woman said.
“There’s an old Chinese saying that dying leaves will return to their roots. If they are dead, there should be bodies. What Malaysia has been done is not acceptable,” she said.