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Chinese Families of MH370 Passengers Wait for Answers

  • Shannon Van Sant

Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 chat outside the conference room during a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China, April 11, 2014.
As the search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 enters its second month, relatives of the Chinese passengers on board remain in Beijing, waiting for answers.

Despite millions of dollars and more than a month of searching, the international effort into what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has found few answers.

Australian authorities Monday announced that the aerial search for debris would end within two days and that an unmanned submersible, called the Bluefin 21, would begin slowly building high resolution maps of the ocean floor, a process that could take months to complete.

Most of the passengers on board the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing were Chinese. More than 200 relatives of those passengers continue to meet daily with Malaysian officials at the Lido hotel in the suburbs of Beijing.

Steve Wang’s mother was on board. He said the experience has unified passengers’ relatives. “We are not only friends, we are family.”

Australian authorities have cautioned that the investigation could take years and that the black box flight data recorders may never be found. Passengers’ relatives say they will wait at the hotel until they have answers.

“There are some obvious mistakes that were made from the beginning and they should find out who is responsible and who should be blamed for it,” said Wang.

China repeatedly called on Malaysian authorities to fully disclose information about the crash, following revelations that authorities had waited days to release information about the plane's abrupt change in flight path.

Following the revelations, many relatives here grew skeptical of the information provided by the airline and the Malaysian government, and have been waiting for conclusive proof that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

American Gail Dunham sympathizes. She heads a U.S. organization called the National Air Disaster Alliance, which advocates for airline safety and provides assistance to survivors and family members of plane crash victims. She has met several times with family members in Beijing. “We have a lot in common with the Chinese relatives...their goal for truth and their need to know,” she said.

Flight MH370 vanished early in the morning March 8. There has been no sign of the plane since, but family members say they will continue to wait in Beijing until they learn the fate of the plane and its passengers.