Chinese families of missing passengers ‘outraged’ by decision to call off underwater search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
‘Difficult decision’ to suspend underwater search in Indian Ocean was taken jointly by Malaysia, China and Australia
Relatives of missing Chinese passengers on board of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are “outraged and disappointed” by the decision to suspend the international underwater search for the missing plane that vanished without trace three years ago.
In a joint statement, signed under the name of “all the relatives of Chinese passengers on Malaysia Airlines MH370”, the families said the decision left them feeling “sad, disappointed, helpless and outraged”
“The promise, in which the Malaysian government told the relatives and the world that the search would never be interrupted, suspended and given up, remains ringing in our ears,” the statement said, “but we didn’t see any future plan in [yesterday’s] statement, and we were sad and felt that we were abandoned.”
The statement came a day after aviation officials in China, Australia and Malaysia said in Sydney on Tuesday afternoon that the international underwater search for the missing Boeing 777 had been suspended, nearly three years after it vanished without trace over the Indian Ocean, probably thousands of kilometres off course.
In one of the most mysterious incident in aviation history, the plane carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. About two thirds of the passengers were Chinese nationals.
Families met Malaysia Airlines representatives in Beijing on Wednesday morning and demanded that the company immediately resume psychological counselling to the families and make a “detailed and feasible” plan to resume the search as soon as possible, the statement said.
They also asked to meet Malaysian government officials, a request the families said had been denied in previous years.
Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the flight, said families were left in the dark about the decision until it was made public on Wednesday afternoon. “It is really cruel to all the families, and I believe that our priority right to be informed should be respected.”
The families also asked the Malaysian government to release video footage of passengers boarding the plane, which Jiang said had been denied to the families.
“I want to see what my mother looked like in her last moments before she boarded the plane,” Jiang said. “Was she happy? What did she wear?”
At Wednesday’s meeting, airline officials proposed that four representatives chosen by the Chinese families could travel to Kuala Lumpur to meet Malaysian government officials, but the offer was turned down.
“We can’t agree on this. I can hardly represent my own elder sister on these issues,” said Dai Shuqin, 63, who lost five family members on the missing plane. “This is unacceptable.”
Li Eryou, who travelled from Handan in neighbouring Hebei province and whose son was on board, agreed.
“Each family should be allowed to send two members to Malaysia for the meeting, or Malaysian government officials can come to Beijing,” he said. “We have been asking for meetings with Malaysian officials but such requests have long been denied, and the option of choosing just four representatives was not acceptable.”
“They should explain to why they have found nothing after more than two years of searching,” Li said.
Australian federal transport minister Darren Chester told reporters in Melbourne earlier on Wednesday that calling off the search was a difficult decision made jointly by the three nations.
Chester insisted that cost was not a factor in stopping the search. Australia lost eight of its nationals on board the flight.
Malaysia Airlines said yesterday that it remained “hopeful that in the near future” new and significant information would come to light so that the missing plane would be found.
Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing on Tuesday that China remained “highly concerned” about the missing plane and would communicate and cooperate with Australia and Malaysia over the missing flight.
Families said that they would seek help from the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday.