Families of China passengers threaten to go on hunger strike

BEIJING — Furious Chinese families threatened yesterday to go on a hunger strike until the Malaysian government tells them the truth about the fate of their relatives aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Ten days after the airliner vanished an hour into its flight, hundreds of family members are still waiting for information in a Beijing hotel. Around two-thirds of the 239 passengers on board Flight MH370 are Chinese.

Families vented their pain and anger on Chinese representatives sent by the airline to meet them and demanded to see the Malaysian Ambassador.

“What we want is the truth. Don’t let them become victims of politics,” said one middle-aged woman angrily. “No matter what political party you are, no matter how much power you have, if there isn’t life, what’s the point? Where is compassion?”

Speaking to reporters, the woman held up a piece of paper with slogans written on it, and said the families were calling for a hunger strike. “Respect life, return our relatives. Can everyone read it? Can everyone read it?” she asked.

“We’re going on a hunger strike. I’m representing,” she added. “The families are on the point of collapse. There are so many families coming and going, some have already left. The young people can stand it, but the elderly have already broken down,” she shouted.

It was not clear how many of the relatives would join the hunger strike, or if it had even begun.

China has repeatedly called on the Malaysian side to do a better job of looking after the relatives of the Chinese passengers and to provide them with updated information.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Huang Huikang said an investigation into the backgrounds of all passengers from China on board has found no evidence suggesting they are linked to sabotage or any terror attacks. He added that as far as he knows, no group or individual has claimed the incident is an organised terror attack or lodged any political appeal.

New search areas announced on Saturday encompass a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand as well as a second southern one estimated from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

Mr Huang said China has started searching its territory along the northern corridor and satellites and radar have been utilised for the search, adding that Chinese navy ships and other ships are on standby and ready to go to the new search areas.

The search and rescue operation for now should focus on narrowing the search areas and ruling out one corridor, said Mr Huang, calling for enhanced international cooperation in the massive multinational search mission.

China has been involved in the search since MH370 went missing on March 8. It has also cooperated and has been in close contact with Malaysia, which demonstrated the maturity of the two countries’ strategic cooperative partnership, Mr Huang said.

On the criticism of the Malaysian government, he said Malaysia does not have enough experience or ability to handle this emergency. Nevertheless, Malaysia has tried its best, he said.

He added that it was not proper for some information to be made public at the moment, which is why the Malaysian government has emphasised that it will not reveal information until it is corroborated and will not affect the investigation. “I think that is what a responsible government does,” he said.

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