About 20 to 30 protesters threw water bottles at the Malaysian
embassy and tried to storm the building, demanding to meet the
ambassador, witnesses said. Earlier, the relatives, many with
tear-stained faces, had linked arms and chanted "Malaysian
government has cheated us" and "Malaysia, return our relatives" as
they marched peacefully and held banners.
The relatives' grief and anger was unleashed on Monday night after
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Malaysia
Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished more than two weeks ago while
flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in the southern
Citing satellite-data analysis by British firm Inmarsat, he said
there was now no doubt that the Boeing jet came down in the ocean in
one of the most remote places on Earth — an implicit admission that
all 239 people on board had died.
Bad weather in the region far off Australia's western coast on
Tuesday forced the suspension of the search for any wreckage, just
as a series of satellite images and other sightings of floating
objects had raised hopes that debris from the plane would be found.
Malaysia's confused initial response to the Boeing 777's
disappearance and a perception of poor communications has enraged
many relatives of the more than 150 Chinese passengers and strained
ties between Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.
After Najib's announcement, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie
Hangsheng demanded Malaysia hand over all relevant satellite
analysis showing how Malaysia had reached its conclusion about the
fate of the jet.
A group reportedly representing families issued a statement
describing the Malaysian airline, government and military as
"executioners" who constantly tried to delay and deceive them.
"We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes
and responsibility of all three," said the statement on the
microblog of the Malaysia Airlines MH370 Family Committee.
The relatives protesting in Beijing held signs that said: "MH370,
Don't let us wait too long!" and "1.3 billion people are waiting to
greet the plane". They wore matching t-shirts that said: "Best of
luck to MH370, return home safely."
"We've waited for 18 days and still, you make us wait. How long are
we supposed to hang on?" a woman surnamed Zhang told Reuters.
The protest ended after a few hours, when police told protesters to
get on buses and escorted them away.
Criticism of the Malaysian national carrier mounted after some
relatives of those on board first received the news that the search
for survivors was over in an SMS from the airline, which said: "We
have to assume beyond all reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost
and none of those on board survived."
At a news conference at Kuala Lumpur's international airport on
Tuesday, company officials defended the move, saying the text
message had only been sent as a "last resort" to ensure that some
relatives did not hear the news first from media.
"This is a time of extraordinary emotions and we fully understand,"
said Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mohd Nur Yusof. "In fact, we really
feel for the next of kin. In terms of how they react, it's
Asked whether he would resign over the crisis, the airline's chief
executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said that would be a "personal
decision" to be made at a later time.
WRECKAGE COULD HOLD KEY
Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour
after taking off on March 8. No confirmed debris from the plane has
been found since.
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Investigators believe someone on the flight may have shut off the
plane's communications systems. Partial military radar tracking
showed it turning west and re-crossing the Malay Peninsula,
apparently under the control of a skilled pilot.
Recovery of wreckage could unlock clues about why the plane had
diverted so far off course. Theories range from a hijacking to
sabotage or a possible suicide by one of the pilots, but
investigators have not ruled out technical problems.
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,
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said gale-force
winds, heavy rain and low cloud meant planes could not fly safely to
the zone on Tuesday, and waves of 6 meters (20ft) or more forced the
navy ship from the area.
The search site is far from commercial flight paths about 2,500 km
(1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, a region of deep, frigid seas
known as the Roaring 40s where storm-force winds and huge waves are
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that it would make
arrangements to fly relatives to Australia once it had approval from
the investigating authorities.
Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said his department
was working with the airline and Beijing to facilitate visas.
Relatives would be given tourist visas with the usual fees waived,
COSTLY, DIFFICULT INVESTIGATION
Najib's announcement opens the way for what will be one of the most
costly and difficult air crash investigations ever. Normally, an
official investigation can only begin once a crash site has been
identified. That would give Malaysia power to coordinate and sift
A government source told Reuters that Malaysia would lead the
investigation, but hoped other countries, especially Australia,
would play a major role.
The United States said it was sending an undersea Navy drone to
Australia, in addition to a high-tech black box detector, to help in
The so-called black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder and flight
data recorder — record what happens during flight. Black boxes carry
locator beacons but they fade out after 30 days.
Najib said Inmarsat had performed further calculations on data
gleaned from faint pings picked up by satellite that initially only
narrowed the search area to two massive arcs.
That was not enough for some of the relatives. "There was no
evidence," a protester at the Malaysian Embassy surnamed Wang told
Reuters. "It was just based on analysis from the satellite data and
nothing found. Why would we believe it?"
(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard, Megha Rajagopalan and Joseph
Campbell in Beijing, Stuart Grudgings, Michael Martina, Siva
Govindasamy and A. Ananthalakshmi in Kuala Lumpur; Phil Stewart in
Washington; Jane Wardell in Sydney and Matt Siegel in Perth; writing
by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Alex Richardson)
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