Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Flight MH370 relatives refuse to give up search for loved ones

Aid group will meet regularly and demand information from Malaysia

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 4:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 4:13am

Relatives of the Chinese passengers on board flight MH370 said they were prepared for a long- term battle to find their loved ones, as the final relative who had been staying at the Lido Hotel in Beijing checked out yesterday.

Steps they plan on taking include holding weekly meetings and setting up a website.

"I stayed as long as I can to confront the Malaysian side. They should respond properly to the relatives of MH370 passengers," said Jiang Hui .

Jiang, 41, is an IT engineer from Beijing.

His 70-year-old mother was among 239 passengers and crew on the Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight that vanished without trace on March 8.

"I'm so disappointed that the Malaysian government and airline did not present their preliminary report to the families. They also never explained why they forced us to leave early," he said.

Earlier, Malaysia Airlines announced that it would close all of its family assistance centres worldwide by Wednesday. However, relatives were asked to leave the Lido by 6pm on May 2 without further explanation.

Jiang decided to stay in the hotel, after all the remaining relatives left by the May 2 deadline. Since then, he and his brother have paid 759 yuan (HK$955) a night for the hotel room.

More than two-thirds of the 154 missing Chinese passengers are from outside Beijing, and their relatives returned to their hometowns from the Lido.

Members of the MH370 relatives council, which now calls itself the relatives' aid group, suspected that the end of their hotel stay was due to a protest by some 100 relatives outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on April 25, demanding information.

"Asking us to leave the Lido will break up the large group of relatives," said Steve Wang, a spokesman for the group.

"It's not that we want free accommodation and food from the airline. We're afraid that once we leave, there will be less and less information, and that we'll be completely ignored."

To Jiang, the hotel was like a battlefield where the more than 100 families could stand together and fight for the truth. They want their loved ones back, or at least to find out where they are.

"We'll never give up looking for them," he said.

The biggest problem for the relatives was that Malaysia Airlines stopped providing them with updated information and even made mistakes while collecting missing passengers' information, Jiang said.

The relatives' aid group has just released a statement with families in the United States, Malaysia, India and New Zealand to ask the Malaysian government to provide them with raw data.

"Above all, we still demand the release of the raw data," Wang said. "Experts from around the world may help us find our loved ones based on the data."

The relatives' aid group will shortly set up a website to gather all the information that might help to locate the missing plane. They also plan to find a venue in Beijing for their weekly or monthly meetings to brief relatives and continue communications with Malaysia.

Jiang said that he was tired of hotel food after staying in the Lido for two months and was looking forward to spending more time with his three-year-old daughter.

"At first I had to lie to her when she asked where her granny was," he said. "Now she asks less. I fear that she won't remember my mother at all."