BEIJING - The declaration that the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was an accident and that all onboard are presumed dead dashed family members' hopes of seeing their loved ones before Chinese New Year.
The festival, popularly known as the Spring Festival in China, is the most important to the Chinese, especially since it emphasises family reunion.
With the festival just around the corner, the families of the Chinese passengers on board the missing jetliner criticised the announcement, saying it was insensitive.
"Why do they have to make the announcement now? Can't they let us usher in the Spring Festival clinging on to the hope that we might one day see our loved ones again?" Jiang Hui, whose mother was one of the passengers on MH370, said.
"Imagine our loneliness and grief while others celebrate the festival joyfully," he added.
Two-thirds of the passengers on the Beijing-bound MH370 were Chinese nationals.
Jiang lamented that the family members were not informed of the announcement earlier.
He said some 110 family members took their own initiative to gather in Beijing yesterday when they heard that an announcement was to be made over MH370.
"Most of us were at the family support centre in Shunyi on the outskirts of Beijing," Jiang said.
"There was no television for us to watch the live broadcast."
There was a heavy police presence and ambulances on standby at the centre.
Earlier in the day, some family members gathered near the Malaysian embassy here to protest the announcement.
Police cordoned off the roads leading to the embassy.
The families insisted that the announcement should not have been made without any shred of evidence.
The massive search in the southern Indian Ocean, where the plane is believed to have ended its journey, has been fruitless so far.