Chinese premier urges Malaysia to continue search for MH370 wreckage

In this April 8, 2014 file, a school utility worker mops a mural depicting the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 at the Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino High School campus at Makati city east of Manila, Philippines.

Premier Li Keqiang said it was a "difficult moment" for all, shortly after the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was officially declared an accident, urging Malaysia to locate the bodies as well as the wreckage "by all possible means" and fulfil its commitment to compensating the families and deliver an investigation report.

"This is a difficult moment for the unfortunate families and for all of us. The Chinese government shares the deepest sorrow and our deep sympathy go to the next-of-kin," Li said.


"The Chinese government, other governments involved in the tragedy and international organisations have made their best efforts over the past year to search for the flight and comfort families," he said.

Li made the statement at a press conference with visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in Beijing, after the pair held talks.

According to Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation, the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was officially declared an accident under international aviation rules.

All 239 passengers and crew aboard are presumed to have lost their lives, Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Director-General of the DCA said.

The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on March 8 last year.

Official announcement

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) officially declared on Thursday that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was an accident.

"We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident ... and that all 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives," DCA director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement.

The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 in the International Civil Aviation, said Azharuddin. It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation, he said.

Malaysia Airlines was ready to proceed immediately with the compensation process to the next-of-kin of the passengers on the flight, he said.

The Boeing 777 aircraft left Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am local time on March 8, 2014, and was due to land in Beijing at 6:30 am on the same day.

Carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese citizens, the flight lost contact with air traffic controllers about an hour after taking off. Months of searches have failed to turn up any trace.

The last-known position of the plane was 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.

"This declaration is by no means the end," said Azharuddin, adding that it will continue with the search for the missing plane with assistance from China and Australia.

International investigators are looking into why the jet veered thousands of miles off course from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia is also conducting a criminal investigation.

"Both investigations are limited by the lack of physical evidence at this time, particularly the flight recorders," said Azharuddin.

"Therefore, at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident."

The DCA will conduct a technical briefing on Friday to provide a further update on the ongoing MH370 search mission.

Malaysia's deputy transport minister Aziz Kaprawi said on Wednesday that the DCA will release an interim report on the investigation into the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 7, a day before the one-year anniversary of the disappearance.

Families refuse to accept statement

The families of the 154 Chinese passengers on the MH370 flight refused to accept the Malaysian government's decision to officially announce that the plane has crashed or gotten lost, according to an announcement released on Wednesday on the family commission's blog account.

The announcement said the families of all the 154 Chinese passengers had voted to oppose the decision and said "this cold, cruel, irresponsible practice is violating the international conventions".

"It (The decision to officially announce it was a fatal accident) doesn't benefit aircraft search and investigation of the incident," the families said in the announcement, adding that it cannot appease the families, but hurts the families again.

"We urge the Malaysian side to strictly comply with the international conventions standard, such as the Chicago Convention, and to be serious, responsible, and efficient in investigation and search, and respect the feelings of the families," they said, asking the Malaysian government to "consider giving spiritual counseling and other support for the families who have suffered nearly a year of torment".

Video call was family's final contact

Hou Aiqin, a 45 year old woman who had been visiting Nepal, was on board MH370 returning from her holiday. Due to a limited number of discount tickets, she decided to return by taking China Southern Airlines' flight CZ3101 and then transfer to the ill fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

A video call she made to her husband Bai Shuanfu on March 6 is her family's last memory of her. Bai didn't get to know what happened until one of the passengers on CZ3101 said she had lost contact with Hou.

Bai told China Daily that he really missed her and wanted to know where she was. "Did she take enough warm clothes with her?" he asked.

He said he still remembers how he and his wife hung couplet inscriptions on either side of their doors during Spring Festival last year. "I know it is a fact that Hou has left. I just cannot accept it," he said.

Three-year-old still waits for grandpa

MH370 has been missing for more than 10 months. Relatives of the passengers onboard the fated plane still wait for the return families.

A 3-year-old girl, too young to understand the meaning of death, has kept asking her mom when her grandfather will come back.

"My teacher told me the plane crashed in the sea." Mao Lin's daughter tells her. Mao can't hold back her tears any more. The little girl keeps saying: "Is my grandpa drawing and writing in another world now?"

Mao's father, Mao Tugui, 72, was an artist in Chongqing, who came to Beijing by train for a journey to Malaysia on March 1 last year. The family can't believe that was when he left home forever.

Her father used to help take care of her daughter while Mao Lin ran her milk-tea shop. The shop has now been closed for months, the lives of the family having been shattered.

Mao Lin was shocked when she heard the news. Since March she's been waiting for updates but the only information she gets is "No new progress. Malaysia Airlines is keeping searching." She lost faith in the emails after suffering disappointment day by day.

"I have been thinking how I should tell my girl about the tragedy," Mao Lin said. "She's too young to accept and understand the truth."

Timeline of events on Flight MH370

March 8

00:41 am Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur with 227 passengers (154 Chinese citizens) and 12 crew members, scheduled to arrive in Beijing just under six hours later.

1:20 am Contact with the flight is lost believed to be in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area. 8:44 am Malaysia confirms the plane has gone missing.

8:44 am Malaysia confirms the plane has gone missing.

Around 14:00 pm Relatives of Chinese passengers on MH370 arrive at Beijing Lido Hotel, waiting for further news.

20:00 pm Two passengers reportedly boarded the plane using stolen passports.

March 9

Chinese rescue vessels and medical teams arrive at the search site in South China Sea.

March 10

China sends four patrol and rescue vessels, two naval warships, and adjusts high-resolution satellites.

March 11

First group of relatives of Chinese passengers on MH370 arrive in Kuala Lumpur. Ships and planes from about 10 countries and regions scour the waters to search for the missing flight. No solid clues are found.

May 29, 2014

Premier Li Keqiang urged Malaysia to work out a new plan concerning the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, during a meeting with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Beijing.

May 5, 2014

The trilateral ministerial talks among China, Malaysia and Australia on the search of flight MH370 started in the Parliament House in Canberra.

May 3, 2014

Navy vessel 872 with strong underground searching capacities left for the southern Indian Ocean.

Apr 30, 2014

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held phone talks with his Australian counterpart, Tony Abbott, to discuss the search for MH 370 and relations between the two countries.

Apr 11, 2014

President Xi Jinping offered China's sincere appreciation to visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the Australian-coordinated search for the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Faces of flight MH370: What we know about the passengers

Passenger manifest for Flight MH370

154 Chinese including one infant

Malaysia 38

India 5

Indonesia 7

Australia 6

France 4

USA 3 including infant

New Zealand 2

Ukraine 2

Canada 2

Russian 1

Italy 1

Netherlands 1

Austrian 1