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Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline

By Xu Wei (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2014-03-09 18:38

Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline
A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing March 8, 2014. [Photo by Zhu Xingxin/China Daily] 

Developments in 24 hours on the missing Malaysia plane

Frustration and fear have boiled over for the loved ones of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, with the group demanding information and asking for assistance from the Chinese government.

Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline

Facts and figures about Boeing 777-200

Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline

Families and friends await words 

 
Tired of waiting in a hotel room in Beijing's Lido Hotel, the friends and relatives issued a joint statement on Sunday afternoon calling for Malaysian Airlines to make public all the facts about the case before 5pm, and to make the information available to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The joint communiqué came a short while after Malaysia Airlines confirmed in its latest press statement that the flight carrying 239 passengers and crew, including 154 Chinese nationals, was still missing.

The passengers' loved ones also requested that Chinese government officials should mediate the efforts of Chinese relatives in their discussions with the airlines, Malaysia's flag carrier.

The family and friends said they had exchanged information and sympathies via the instant messaging platform WeChat which allowed them to stay better coordinated and pool their resources.

Some among the group have urged the airline to follow every clue that has emerged, including a cell phone call that reportedly rang when dialed but was not answered.

A cousin of one of the passengers said that beginning on Saturday and throughout Sunday, when he dialed his relative's phone, on a Singapore number, the call rang through. The cousin speculated that there must be a way to locate a ringing phone.

Yet, two hours after news of the phone call was presented to airline staff, some of the group of loved ones felt the clue had not been followed up on with enough vigilance. So upset was one member of the group, he threw a bottle of water at airline executive Ignitias Ong.

Ong, the CEO of Malaysia Airlines subsidiary Firefly airlines, said the airline used all means available to contact the crew of the plane from the moment it went missing. He offered the possibilities that the cell phone rang after being dialed even thought it was out of service

Even so, Ong confirmed to China Daily that the airlines had informed the friends and family to be prepared for "the worst scenario".

Additionally, the airline offered to facilitate the visits of close relatives of the passengers to Malaysia for further discussions. The first flight for Chinese relatives to Malaysia will depart on Tuesday, according to Hugh Dunleavy, director of Commercial with the airlines.

"We will try to speed up the visa process and make sure the closest family members will board the first flight," Dunleavy said.

He added that the airlines will arrange subsequent flights to Malaysia for other friends and relatives.

For some of the loved ones, however, the offer was not good enough. Many decided to refuse the offer and stay in China.

"The only thing I want is to know where they are. How can I know that if I go to Malaysia?" said a Beijing resident who refused to disclose her name.

Xu Suhang, a resident of Jiangsu province who said she had several friends and relatives on the flight, presented a self-drawn map to Dunleavy and said there is a possibility that the flight had been lost near Cambodia.

"If they could just enlarge the search area by another longitude, there is a chance that the flight is there," she said.

The response she received, in her words, was that Malaysia Airlines is not in charge of the search and rescue operations.

Dunleavy refused to confirm reports that five passengers on missing flight MH370 had boarded with fake passports.

Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline

Passengers' loved ones lash out at airline
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The missing Malaysian jet may have turned back from its scheduled course to Beijing before disappearing, a military official said here Sunday. 

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Two passengers with false passports got on board the missing Malaysian plane according to the closed-circuit television (CCTV) records, Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation Director General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman confirmed Sunday in a latest press conference.

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A Chinese coast guard vessel has entered the waters around the suspected site of the missing Malaysian plane to carry out a rescue mission. As of 11:30 am on Sunday, the vessel "China Coast Guard 3411" has entered the area and was about 45 nautical miles from where the plane was believed to be when it lost contact with ground control, according to China's State Oceanic Administration.

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