Chinese families of MH370 victims refuse to accept declaration

Chinese families of MH370 victims refuse to accept declaration
In a file picture taken on April 8, 2014, a woman (C) lights a candle as Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 take part in a prayer service at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing.

BEIJING - Families of Chinese passengers of MH370 want Malaysia to retract its declaration that all on board the missing plane are presumed dead.

Speaking to reporters outside the Yonghe Lama Temple here yesterday, Jiang Hui said they also wanted an apology from Malaysia.

"We were not informed of this important announcement beforehand. It caught us by surprise at a moment when we should be accompanied by close family members.

"As the next-of-kin, we have the right to know before anyone else," he said.

The missing B777-200 had 239 passengers and crew members, two-thirds of them Chinese nationals.

Jiang said the families were both infuriated and tormented by the announcement, which was viewed as "hasty, irresponsible and cold-hearted".

"A 60-year-old man, whose son was on the flight, died several hours after watching the announcement at home," he said.

Some family members had gathered in Beijing on Thursday morning when they heard that an announcement would be made that day.

They protested near the Malaysian embassy before spending a night at the family support centre at Shunyi, on the outskirts of Beijing.

The protesters refused to accept the announcement, arguing that the disappearance remained a mystery.

Jiang said they conveyed their demands at a meeting with representatives from the Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia Airlines and the Chinese government at the family support centre yesterday.

He added that the families also could not accept that the search and rescue mission became a "recovery operation" on April 28.

"We cannot comprehend the fact that the governments have given up on rescuing passengers, and focused on just searching for the aircraft 50 days after it disappeared," he said.

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