Missing MH370: Beijing briefing for next-of-kin lasts 7 hours

BEIJING - The briefing session by the high-level delegation for the Chinese family members lasted close to seven hours Sunday.

Malaysian ambassador to China Datuk Iskandar Sarudin said the questions raised by the next-of-kin ranged from radar to search and rescue operations to technical details.

"The delegation, including RMAF air operations commander Lt-Jen Datuk Seri Ackbal Abdul Samad, Department of Civil Aviation air traffic services director Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar and representatives from Malaysia Airlines, Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, answered whatever it could to help families understand the whole situation," he said.

Iskandar described the atmosphere as "very good", an improvement from the meeting on Saturday.

On Saturday, a commotion erupted when the delegation said it welcomed further questions in written form instead of taking questions on the spot, after answering 10 questions submitted by the families a day before.

"For the first time, a few of them expressed their appreciation at the presence of the delegation to provide information.

"Prior to the arrival of this delegation, our representatives here were not in the position to shed light onto some of their queries, which could only be addressed by the relevant authority," Iskandar said.

The meeting was attended by about 400 family members of the 153 Chinese passengers on board MH370.

"When I gave an introductory remark at the beginning of the briefing, I emphasised on the importance of us working closely with the family members and the working team of Chinese government officers," Iskandar said.

Over in BANGI, a similar briefing was organised for the Chinese next-of-kin stationed here.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's special envoy to China, Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, said the families were emotionally stable as he held a briefing with the families on Sunday.

The closed-door briefing lasted for about two hours at a hotel here, with representatives from Malaysia Airlines (MAS) also in attendance.

"The families had asked many questions and we addressed them. The atmosphere was peaceful," Ong said in a statement after the briefing was concluded. There are some 20 Chinese nationals related to passengers on board the MH370 flight who travelled here from Beijing since March 11.

Several caused a brief commotion earlier this week at the Sama-Sama Hotel just before the start of acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein's daily press briefing on the ongoing search and rescue mission.

Ong, who was subsequently appointed to coordinate briefings for the next-of-kin, said he has held four meetings with the families so far.