News / Asia

Chinese Families of Missing MH370 Passengers Protest

Malaysia: Plane's Last Location West of Australiai
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March 25, 2014 1:10 AM
Malaysia's prime minister delivered the bad news to family members of the passengers Monday, announcing that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was lost in the southern Indian Ocean. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how satellite data helped him make that statement.

Watch related report from VOA's Carolyn Presutti.

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Angry relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysian jetliner protested in front of the Malaysian embassy in Beijing Tuesday, as the search for the plane was suspended due to bad weather.

Around 100 Chinese family members held signs and demanded to know the "truth" about the plane, which Malaysian authorities have now concluded crashed into a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean.

In some cases, the protesters called Malaysian government officials "liars" and "murderers." After police prevented them from reaching nearby journalists who were blocked from the protest, some of the protesters clashed with police.

"What are you doing? I want to go and find those Malaysians. Who am I supposed to wait for? Why have I been waiting an hour already? I've been waiting for 18 days," a relative said. "What's the point?"

Two-thirds of the 239 people on board the plane were from China, and many of their family members say they will not believe the Malaysian government's conclusions until officials provide proof.

But proof is not likely to come soon, since Australian authorities were forced Tuesday to delay the search for 24 hours because of high waves, strong winds and dense clouds.
 
  • The Bluefin 21, the Artemis autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), is hoisted back on board the Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield after a successful buoyancy test in the southern Indian Ocean as part of the continuing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, April 4, 2014.
  • Flight Lieutenant Stephen Graham monitors a TAC station onboard a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean, near the coast of Western Australia, April 4, 2014.
  • Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force Commander Hidetsugu Iwamasa speaks to the press in front of one of their P-3C Orion aircraft currently at RAAF Base Pearce near Perth, Australia, April 4, 2014.
  • Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 pray in a prayer room, Beijing, China, April 4, 2014.
  • Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak tour RAAF Base Pearce, near Perth, April 3, 2014.
  • Steve Wang a representative from the committee for relatives of Chinese passengers onboard Flight MH370 talks to journalists after a closed door meeting with Malaysian officials via teleconference in Beijing, April 2, 2014.
  • A crew member sits in the cockpit of a Royal New Zealand Air Force patrol aircraft as it continues searching in the southern Indian Ocean for Flight MH370, April 1, 2014.
  • Koji Kubota of the Japan Coast Guard keeps watch while flying in the search zone for debris from Flight MH370, April 1, 2014.
  • A Buddhist monk welcomes Chinese relatives of passengers on Flight MH370 as they arrive to pray at a Buddhist temple in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, March 31, 2014.
  • Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott addresses the international forces currently based in Perth searching for Flight MH370 during his visit to RAAF Base Pearce, March 31, 2014.

Also Tuesday, Malaysian officials provided more details about how they determined the flight crashed, hours after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing on March 8.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein explained the judgement was made using a highly technical analysis of automated signals sent from the jet to a satellite belonging to Inmarsat, a British company.

The signals continued for several hours after the plane's other communications systems mysteriously stopped working, providing investigators with a rough location of where the jet flew.

Hishammuddin said while the final location of the jet is not known, the search has been narrowed to the southern part of the southern corridor, where possible debris has been spotted in satellite photos. He said the search in the northern corridor has been called off.

Earlier, Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya acknowledged "we do not know why, (and) we do not know how" the tragedy occurred. But he said there is no evidence of any survivors. "It's very evident that the aircraft ended its flight in the middle of the south Indian Ocean. We just have to follow the evidence being presented to us. What we did yesterday was to share that as quickly as possible to the next of kin," he said.

Australian Defense Minister David Johnston said Malaysia's analysis is the "best information we've got right now." But he cautioned the flight remains "a mystery" and that "virtually everything is speculation" until debris is recovered and identified.

"It is a very, very difficult task and can I tell you this deployment that you can see behind me, and all of the aircraft that I have named, is probably one of the largest efforts you'll ever see in terms of maritime surveillance and joint operations from China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, United States, Korea etcetera," stated Johnston. 

A final conclusion about what happened on flight MH370 likely cannot be made until the plane's flight data recorder, or "black box" is located.

The U.S. Navy on Monday said it is sending a black box detector to aid in the search for the plane. The Navy says the "Towed Pinger Locator" could detect the missing airplane's black box to a depth of about 6,100 meters.

Investigators are not ruling out anything, including catastrophic mechanical failure, pilot sabotage or terrorism.

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