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MH370 families take Malaysian officials to task

By HOU LIQIANG ( Updated: 2014-03-21 21:54

MH370 families take Malaysian officials to task
Malaysia's Lieutenant General Samad listens to a question from a family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during a briefing at a hotel in Beijing. [Photo/Agencies]

Family members of passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines' missing flight MH370 at a Friday briefing questioned a special envoy team from Malaysia over its government's failure to release timely information, and they pressed for any possible information that could indicate that their relatives may still be alive.

MH370 families take Malaysian officials to task

The team, consisting of high-level representatives from the Malaysian Air Force and Malaysian Civil Aviation Administration, arrived in Beijing late on Thursday.

They started Friday's news briefing at 10 am with an overview of what Malaysia's and other countries' search and rescue teams have done and will do.

During that presentation, which took about an hour, many of the relatives seemed to be asleep or were looking at their cellphones.

But the situation quickly turned heated during a Q&A session that lasted for more than two hours.

Although only four or five people initially raised questions, the other relatives pelted the envoy team with follow-up questions.

They mainly were concerned with why the Malaysian government hadn't offered information more quickly along with the possibility of terrorism.

The envoy team also was asked about the contradictory information that was given out.

"You released the information (of the possible track of the missing plane) on the 14th day after the aircraft was found missing, when the search and rescue was coming to a close and when it was the most dangerous time (for the passengers)," a family member said in a low but quivering voice.

"If you made public all the information in 24 or even in 48 hours after the incident, we wouldn't have to suffer here for 13 days."

"Will the lack of information flow affect the search and rescue work?" a woman asked several times.

"Just tell me yes or no," she said, interrupting an answer from Lieutenant General Ackbal Samad from the Ministry of Defense, which she believed was "not a direct statement".

The woman also said the Malaysian government had humiliated the countries that spent so much of their search and rescue efforts in the Gulf of Thailand only to later say that the plane had turned back to the Indian Ocean instead of heading north.

Another relative also criticized the late release of crucial facts: "Based on the information you offered today and the technological means you showed us, you knew it. You knew it very early."

A mother whose only son was on the missing plane asked if it was possible that the pilot, a relative of an opposition leader, had hijacked the plane in support of the man. Another relative also asked whether family members could be told about any negotiations with possible hijackers.

"We, all family members of the passengers, require you to abandon all empty considerations and interests and hatred and let our relatives come back," she said.

The general, however, said no possibility can be ruled out as the black box flight recorder of the plane hasn't been found and that it would be the Malaysian police instead of him to answer those questions.

"If we do find enough evidence, of course, justice will done. I can assure you that," the genera saidl.

He also said that some information wasn't made out of consideration for the safety of the passengers.

Liu Mengyang contributed to the story.

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