Furious relatives of passengers on a missing Malaysian aircraft are ramping up pressure on the Malaysian and Chinese governments to give them answers about what has happened, threatening lawsuits and demanding to see the Chinese President, Xi Jinping.
Surrounded by reporters at the Beijing hotel where they have been told by the airline to gather, relatives are lashing out at the media, the airline and their own government for ignoring their plight.
“I really want to see President Xi. I don’t know right now what could possibly be more important than the lives of these 200 people,” said a young woman who gave her family name as Wen.
“I also want to ask Mrs Xi, if your husband, President Xi, was on the plane, just imagine, if it was you, how would your parents feel? My husband was on the plane. Every day my children are asking me about their dad. What am I supposed to do? We’re helpless. We need our government to support us.”
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur early on Saturday and dropped off civilian radar screens less than an hour into its flight to Beijing.
Another person, who declined to give his name, said a lawsuit was the only way forward. “We are definitely going to sue them. This is really bad. [We are not suing] Malaysia Airlines, but the Malaysian government,” he told reporters.
One man from Beijing, speaking to reporters after a meeting between the families and Malaysian diplomats, said it was ridiculous that the Malaysians seemed not to have even the most basic facts. “The exact demands were the exact position the plane disappeared at, the time it disappeared, and what happened in the time between the time when the plane was first reported missing and 2.40,” he said, recounting the meeting with the diplomats, who left without speaking to reporters.
Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian and Chinese governments say they are doing all they can for the relatives, though Beijing has demanded that Kuala Lumpur drastically step up its efforts.
Hugh Dunleavy, Malaysia Airlines’ commercial director, told Reuters that some people were turning up at the hotel and claiming free meals and rooms when they had nothing to do with the flight.
The loss of a relative threatens to cause real difficulty for some of the families left behind. Feng Zhishan, 50, said his son Feng Dong, 22, was flying back to China from Singapore, where he had been working. “Our family has no money,” Mr Feng told Reuters. “They all said, you can make more money in Singapore.”
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