25 Mar 2014

Chinese anger over missing Malaysian Airlines plane

Relatives of missing Chinese passengers clash with police in Beijing outside the Malaysian embassy, as Malaysian officials say the search will now focus on the southern part of the southern corridor.

Video: Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mat Nor Yusof and Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at Kuala Lumpur airport

On Tuesday, relatives of Chinese passengers on board the flight protested outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing about a perceived mishandling of information. They marched towards the building which was guarded by a row of police, but were allowed past to chant outside the embassy.

Wearing matching T-shirts, they carried banners reading “MH370, don’t make us wait too long!” and many personal messages to relatives like “son, your mother and father’s hearts are broken. Come back quickly”.

Earlier on Monday Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said he would later consider whether to resign for way the news was delivered to relatives of missing passengers, as the search continued for one of the airline’s planes.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is to send a special envoy to Kyula Lumpur to consult with the Malaysian government over the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370, China’s Xinhua state news agency announced.

Final electronic signal

Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told a press conference on Tuesday satellite data that confirmed the Malaysian Airlines MH370 was missing included a final electronic signal that is still being investigated.

And he said new satellite data had allowed them to narrow down the search area to the southern part of the southern corridor, to an area of 469,407 square nautical miles. Search efforts in the northern corridor have now been called off altogether.

The latest satellite analysis suggests that the missing plane, which vanished over two weeks ago, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Monday. The search for the plane, and the 239 people on board – now presumed dead – was called off on Monday because of dangerous weather conditions.

More from Channel 4 News: MH370’s final location? Timeline and clickabe search map

‘Devastating’ news

Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mat Nor Yusof told a news conference at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Tuesday: “This is a sad and tragic day for all for us at Malaysia Airlines. While not totally unexpected after an intensive multi-national search across a 2.24 million square miles area, this news is clearly devastating for the families of those on board,” (see video above).

Our sole and only motivation last night was to ensure that… the families heard the tragic news before the world did. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya

The airline’s chief executive, Mr Yahya, was asked whether he would resign over the way news was delivered to some families of passengers on Monday.

He said: “Our sole and only motivation last night was to ensure that, in the incredibly short amount of time available, the families heard the tragic news before the world did. Wherever humanly possible, we did so in person with the families, or by telephone, using SMS as the last resort of ensuring fully that nearly 1,000 family members heard the news from us and not the media.”

He added: “What we did yesterday was to share that as quickly as possible to the next of kin, and will I resign? It’s a personal decision that we will take later.”

An international air and sea search in the area on Monday spotted several floating objects that might be parts of the plane and an Australian navy ship was close to finding possible debris, said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Chinese anger

Malaysia’s announcement late on Monday that the MH370 had likely crashed into the Indian Ocean, was greeted with hysteria by Chinese relatives.

Airline officials said that all 239 people on board were presumed dead: around two thirds of those were Chinese. In the early hours of last night, families accused Malaysian authorities of concealing information, cheating the families and wasting valuable time searching in the wrong area.

They called Malaysian Airlines, the Malaysian government and military “the true murderers” of their family members.

After the prime minister’s announcement, China’s foreign ministry immediately demanded all relevant satellite-data analysis from Malaysia that demonstrated how Malaysia had reached its conclusion about the fate of the jet.

Recovery of some wreckage of the Boeing 777 could unlock clues about why the plane had diverted so far off course. It was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpar when it diverted off course just one hour into the journey.

Theories have ranged from a hijacking to sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but investigators have not ruled out technical problems.