Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Angry relatives hold staff at Beijing hotel for 10 hours

Angry family members held staff while they tried to get a Malaysian official to attend a briefing

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The Independent Online

More than 200 angry relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 kept members of the carrier's staff in a hotel in Beijing for more than 10 hours, the airline said on Friday.

A spokesperson for Malaysia Airlines said relatives held 10 members of staff for nearly 11 hours inside the hotel ballroom where a briefing was due to take place on Thursday, insisting they wait there while the family members went to the embassy to try to get a Malaysian official to attend the meeting.

Relatives of the passengers on the missing jetliner have been staging a sit-in protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing after officials failed to show up to update them on the search.

"Malaysia Airlines confirms that its staff were held at the Lido Hotel ballroom in Beijing by the family members of MH370 as the families expressed dissatisfaction in obtaining details of the missing aircraft," the airline said.

In a separate incident, a Chinese family member attacked a Malaysian Airlines security supervisor on duty at the same hotel on Tuesday.

On Friday morning, more than 100 police and paramilitary officers cordoned off the area around the embassy. The group finally released the staff members at 1:44 am on Friday.

"We keep on waiting because we want the news," said Steve Wang, whose parents were aboard the flight told The Associated Press. "What we are concerned about is where is the plane, and where are our loved ones."

Mr Wang said the relatives felt slighted by the failure of the Malaysian officials to appear for the briefing. Many have refused to accept the theory that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean and insist that Malaysian officials have not told them the truth about the plane's disappearance.

The Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said that an announcement would likely come next week on the next phase of the search for the Boeing 777, which vanished with 239 people on board during its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March.

A tropical cyclone has hampered the efforts of search teams this week trying to find debris from the plane on the ocean’s surface, almost seven weeks after it went missing.

This places the focus of the search, understood to be the most expensive in aviation history, back on the US Navy’s submersible vehicle Bluefin 21, which will soon finish scouring a 6.2 square mile stretch of seabed.

"If no contacts of interest are made, Bluefin 21 will continue to examine the areas adjacent to the radius," the Australian search coordination centre said in a statement.

Up to eight planes and 10 ships searched for debris over a 49,000-square-kilometer (19,000-square-mile) ocean expanse 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) northwest of the Australian west coast city of Perth on Friday.

Additional reporting by agencies