BEIJING - Hundreds of angry relatives refused to consider the case of Flight MH370 closed and escalated their confrontation with the Malaysian government on Tuesday, protesting at its embassy and calling it the "real executioners" of their loved ones.
Devastated by the revelation from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak the night before that the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight had gone down in the remote southern Indian Ocean with no survivors, they wanted the Malaysian leader to "thoroughly explain the matter to the Chinese people", said one of their number.
The consensus among the families, said the representative, was that there was a cover-up or conspiracy of some sort by the Malaysian government.
The relatives' demand for answers to the fate of the flight which disappeared on March8 with 239 crew members and passengers on board, including 153 Chinese nationals, was echoed by the Chinese government, which sent an envoy to Kuala Lumpur to "deal with the matter".
Some 500 anguished relatives, in Beijing since the flight went missing en route to Beijing from KL, began Tuesday with a statement accusing the Malaysian government, its military and MAS of being the "real executioners" of their loved ones.
They believed the people on the plane could have been saved were it not for the Malaysians' obfuscation and delays, they said, in a statement issued at 2am, four hours after Datuk Seri Najib announced the plane's fate.
Later, when no Malaysian officials or MAS representatives showed up at Beijing's Metropark Lido Hotel for the regular morning briefing, the relatives decided to march to the Malaysian Embassy and hold a protest there.
They held placards that read "Our hearts are broken" and "MAS, you owe us an explanation", and were dressed mostly in matching T-shirts, so the protest looked somewhat orchestrated. They chanted "Stop lying to us!" and "Return us our loved ones!" during their roughly 5km walk.
Upon reaching the embassy, which was surrounded by hundreds of Chinese police officers, the relatives threw empty water bottles at embassy staff filming them from the second floor, and demanded to see Malaysian Ambassador Iskandar Sarudin.
He did not emerge, and after an hour or so - during which some family members scuffled with police officers to let the huge media pack join them inside the embassy gates - their protest letter was accepted by the embassy's second secretary Al-Fadil Adam.
The families were placated by the promise that Datuk Iskandar would meet them later, according to a family member who spoke to The Straits Times. They then left in five buses back to the hotel after the three-hour protest.
Later, Mr Iskandar arrived at the hotel for a 90-minute meeting from which the media was barred. Reports from those inside said it was heated, with families at one point shouting at the ambassador to kneel and apologise. He did not respond to their demand.
He told the families the search operation was still ongoing and that a high-level technical team would arrive in Beijing today to explain the satellite analysis that led to the Malaysian government's conclusion of the plane's fate.
After the ambassador left, several Chinese officials from the transport, civil aviation and foreign affairs agencies spoke to family members, telling them that the Chinese government wanted to see for itself proof that justified the Malaysian government's conclusion on the fate of MH370.
State news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday that President Xi Jinping was sending Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui as a special envoy to deal with the matter.
Mr Zhang would leave as soon as possible, reported Xinhua, adding that Mr Xi also instructed that "relevant Chinese government agencies help Malaysia and other parties involved carry on the search for the ill-fated flight".
Mr Wang Meng, 25, whose mother was on the plane, said families have been through hell and feel "cheated" of the truth.
Asked when they would accept the plane's fate and return home, he said: "We don't feel that we have been treated fairly. Our loved ones, dead or alive, could have been saved if they had handled this better."
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