Chinese MH370 relatives say forced to leave hotel

BEIJING - Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 expressed anger on Friday after being told they must suddenly leave their Beijing hotel a day after the airline said it would stop providing accommodation.

"I'm very angry," said Steven Wang, whose mother was on the flight.

"Malaysia Airlines have suddenly told us to leave," he added. "They should have at least given us an adjustment period for us to make preparations and collect our things."

There was a heavy police presence at the Lido Hotel in Beijing Friday, with dozens of uniformed officers inside.

The airline announced late Thursday in a statement that it was ending all hotel accommodation for passenger relatives by next Wednesday.

The Malaysian flag carrier has provided the service for relatives in a number of countries - most of them in Malaysia and China - where they also received periodic updates on the situation since shortly after the flight mysteriously disappeared on March 8.

In the statement, however, the airline said it was advising families "to receive information updates on the progress of the search and investigation and other support by Malaysia Airlines within the comfort of their own homes".

It said it "will be closing all of its family assistance centres around the world by 7 May 2014".

It was unclear why the relatives at the Lido were being asked to leave earlier than May 7. The airline did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment from AFP.

Relatives' tempers have repeatedly flared throughout the ordeal of the missing plane, particularly at the Lido, where Chinese families have regularly lashed out at officials from the Malaysian government and the airline over their inability to explain the disappearance.

"We're helpless," said Wen Wancheng, whose son was on the flight. "We have no options now, and we're informed to pack up and check out," he added.

"I'm packing already. I have to leave soon."

Wen said that relatives at the Lido had been requested to leave by 6 pm on Friday, though he added that a committee of them was appealing the move, meaning it was "not certain" he would actually leave.

Wang also said that negotiations were ongoing, but that a protest or group action of any kind was unlikely, adding that families will probably leave one by one rather than as a group.