Sobbing Chinese Families Demand Answers from Malaysia

  • VOA News

    March 20, 2014 08:03

    Malaysian police forcibly removed grieving and wailing relatives of Chinese passengers from Wednesday's briefing on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

    Frustration boiled over as the families screamed demands at Malaysian officials, accusing them of lying, giving conflicting information and acting like gangsters.

    Some relatives are threatening a hunger strike.

    Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he understands emotions are high and says authorities are trying their very best to find the plane. He said investigators are trying to narrow the search area, which now covers more than seven million, from Kazakhstan to the southern Indian Ocean.

    Most of the 239 people on board the Boeing 777 were Chinese.

    Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

    Investigators believe the plane was deliberately diverted, either south toward the Indian Ocean or north toward Central Asia.

    Malaysian police found a flight simulator in the Kuala Lumpur home of the pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah. Hishammuddin says experts are trying to retrieve data that was deleted from the device. He says there is no evidence implicating Zaharie in any wrongdoing.

    There is also no evidence of criminal activity by the co-pilot or any of the passengers.

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the FBI is working with Malaysia, but he says U.S. authorities have no theories on what happened to the jet.

    "Every day I'm confronted by your boring questions. I'm facing you everyday, I'm fed up with it. I know you know we can do nothing but vent our anger and cry, we can do nothing to you. Aside from lying, deceiving, you have been playing the gangster," said a relative.

    Scott Hamilton of the U.S.-based aviation consulting firm Leeham & Company tells VOA the Malaysian government appears to be "completely over their heads" with the investigation.

    "They've probably never had anything even remotely like this to deal with," he said. "[They] didn't know what to do with it, didn't know how to deal with the pressure from the Chinese government, which of course was very immense given the number of Chinese on the airplane. You had one agency of the government saying one thing, you've had another agency saying something contradictory. I just think they've been totally over their heads on this."

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