Aircraft Passengers’ Families Demand Answers
The group of 50 want Malaysia Airlines to pay for their flights but the company has said they will not do so until they know what happened to the aircraft.
The Boeing 777 travelling from the city to Beijing lost contact with the ground early on Saturday morning (local time) off Vietnam’s south coast without the pilots sending a distress signal.
Some debris which could be from the plane has been spotted from the air as a major international search continues.
A representative of the families has compiled a statement signed by the families which made three demands from the authorities.
First, requesting Malaysia Airlines “to publicise the truth about the event by 1700 Beijing time (0900GMT)”.
Second, urging the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay more attention to the case and help solve it.
Third, asking the Chinese government “to assign its officials to coordinate with the family members of the passengers of the missing flight and take unified action in negotiating with the Malaysian side.”
But other relatives do not want to go to Malaysia.
“Of course I am not going to get a passport; what for? To go to Malaysia to do what? To stare at the sea?” shouted Wang Aihua, the mother of Cheng Xudong, who was on the Malaysian Airplane.
A Malaysia Airlines spokesman has said the families should “expect the worst” as the search operation continued in the Gulf of Thailand, between Vietnam and Malaysia.
There were 239 people on board the flight. The passengers were mostly from China and Malaysia, with a handful from America, Australia, India, France, Indonesia, Ukraine and other countries.
“I can only pray for a miracle,” said Daniel Liau, a colleague of acclaimed Chinese calligrapher Meng Gaosheng, who was on the flight with 18 other artists, six family members and four staff.
“I feel very sad. Even though I knew them for a short time, they have become my friends,” Liau added.
For Australian grandparents Robert Lawton, 58, and his wife, Catherine, 54, the routine takeoff of flight MH-370 was the beginning of another adventure.
“They mentioned in passing they were going on another big trip and they were really excited,” one of their neighbours told ABC Australia.
Sharing their adventure was another 50-something Australian couple, Rodney and Mary Burrows. Neighbour Don Stokes said the trip was to be the beginning of the “next step in their life.”
Also on board were teenage sweethearts Hadrien Wattrelos, 17, and Zhao Yan, 18, students at a French school in Beijing who were returning from a two-week holiday with Hadrien’s mother and younger sister.
Under Zhao’s Facebook picture of her and Hadrien he had commented: “Je t’aime,” followed by a heart, and she had “liked” his comment.
While expecting the worst, colleagues of 50-year-old Indian passenger Chandrika Sharma were still optimistic.
“There must still be hope,” said a colleague, before adding: “She was friendly and very loveable, very industrious and astute. We will miss her.”
For 24-year-old Firman Chandra Siregar from Indonesia, the flight was a new chapter. In Beijing, he was about to begin a new contract with an oil company.
Tearful relatives and neighbours gathered at his family’s home, praying or watching news of the search operation, while at the same time realising there is little hope of him being round alive.