BANGKOK - The search continued Wednesday over a vast expanse of the Indian Ocean for any debris from a Malaysia Airlines jetliner which has been missing for more than three weeks. Each day becomes more critical because the missing plane’s black box, which might contain the key to understanding what happened, has an expected battery life of about 30 days.
The ongoing search in remote waters, 1,800 kilometers west of Australia, has yet to yield any trace of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
Distraught relatives of the Chinese passengers of Flight 370 met with Malaysian officials at a hotel near Kuala Lumpur. The event was simulcast to relatives in Beijing.
Government authorities in Kuala Lumpur have faced criticism, especially from Chinese relatives, about the lack of transparency in releasing information about the flight, missing since March 8.
The director general of the Malaysian Civil Aviation Department, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, says authorities answered all of the questions from the relatives who did not express any hostility.
"No, they are not hostile. Everybody, they conducted themselves very well in the meeting and we had a very good question and answers time," he said.
In Beijing, relatives also met with Malaysian officials and watched the briefing in Kuala Lumpur on a private simulcast. Steve Wang, whose mother was onboard, said the meeting with Malaysian officials provided little clarity about what happened.
"We're still confused about why they could give such a conclusion...we'll still wait for the truth," Wang said.
Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was carrying 239 passengers, bound for Beijing. Two thirds of them were Chinese.
A multinational search for any traces of the plane continues in the southern Indian Ocean, far off Australia's west coast, encompassing about 220,000 square kilometers.
Malaysia's top police official tells reporters the real cause of the airliner's disappearance may never be known, but more time is needed for the investigation.
Khalid Abu Bakar, the police inspector general, says nothing has been ruled out, including mechanical error. He says all of the passengers have been cleared of suspicion but the investigation of the pilots and crew members continues amid the open question of whether the plane was hijacked or there was sabotage.
However, authorities stress no evidence has emerged suggesting a motive by either of the pilots who were well-regarded by their peers.
The investigator adds that every piece of cargo that was loaded onto the flight is also being investigated. Even the several tons of mangosteens were traced from the orchard they were grown, to who plucked, packed and shipped the fruits and then loaded them on the plane.
Shannon Van Sant contributed to this report from Beijing