Chinese Families Grieve After Missing Flight 'Ended' in Indian Ocean

2014-03-24
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Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave after being told of their deaths at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing, March 24, 2014.
AFP

As relatives of those aboard a missing Malaysian jet mourned the news that there were no survivors after the flight "ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Beijing called on Malaysia to make all data and evidence available to Chinese officials.

"China has already been informed by Malaysia of this announcement, and we are paying great attention," China's foreign ministry said in a statement in the early hours of Tuesday morning, local time.

"China has already demanded that Malaysia further provides all information and evidence about how it reached this conclusion," calling for further search efforts to continue for flight MH370, which disappeared from radar 16 days ago.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak announced on Monday that the passenger jet, which went missing on March 8 with 239 people aboard two thirds of them Chinese en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had crashed in the Indian Ocean, citing a new analysis of existing satellite data about its last position.

"For [the relatives], the past few weeks have been heartbreaking; I know this news must be harder still," Najib said.

Fresh analysis of satellite data placed the last position of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in remote waters off Australia's west coast, and far from any landing sites, he told reporters, ending days of uncertainty for those with loved ones on board.

"It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean," Najib said.

Najib said the analysis of satellite data had been carried out by the U.K.'s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, working with satellite data supplied by British company Inmarsat.

'Painful time'

Malaysian Airlines sent its condolences to friends and families of those on board the flight, saying "we have to assume" the plane was lost.

"Our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time," the statement said.

"We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain."

In Beijing, the relatives of MH370 passenger Bao Yuanhua said they were distraught on hearing the news on television.

"We saw this on the television; there are five or six of us here," the relative, who gave only her surname, Bao, told RFA.

"We are all in the depths of grief now," she said, before hanging up the phone.

The disappearance of MH370 sparked widespread speculation about how and why the plane was diverted from its original course, with very little evidence to support any theory.

Search to continue

However, the multinational search for debris, and the "black box" in-flight data and voice recorders from the Boeing 777 aircraft, will continue.

Investigators have considered a number of theories, including hijacking and sabotage, or a mid-air crisis that left the crew unable to fly the plane, which continued on auto-pilot until the fuel ran out.

The last known contact with MH370 was made over the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam. The reason for the flight's backtracking over the Malaysian peninsula shortly after its last contact with air traffic control remains a mystery.

French and Chinese satellite photos showed floating objects in the ocean near where the flight "ended," with sightings of a wooden pallet, strapping and other debris by an Australian ship over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Malaysian police have interviewed more than 100 people in connection with the lost aircraft, including the families of the pilot and the co-pilot.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.