Frustrated families of vanished MH370 passengers threaten hunger strike
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Frustrated families of vanished MH370 passengers threaten hunger strike

Beijing : China | Mar 18, 2014 at 8:28 AM PDT
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Chinese families are so anguished and frustrated over the disappearance of their loved ones on Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 that they have threatened a hunger strike if authorities do not provide more accurate information, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The threat comes after a meeting with the airline in Beijing earlier in the day.

“What we want is the truth,” said one woman.

The plane vanished March 8 while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. On board were 12 crew members and 227 passengers, 153 of them Chinese.

Despite some 25 countries involved in the search over an ever-widening area, no trace of the plane has been found.

But what has really upset families is that Malaysian authorities have put out conflicting stories that appear to change daily.

For the past 11 days, about 500 Chinese families have gathered for the daily briefings but frustration has grown and some believe the Malaysian government is holding back information.

“You can’t believe the Malaysian government,” one man said.

The Chinese government is venting its anger as well, with its state news agency accusing its Malaysian counterpart of a “dereliction of duty,” delays that are “intolerable” and “inescapable responsibility.”

Just when authorities seemed to narrow in on the culpability of the pilot in the disappearance, Malaysian authorities have released new information that muddies the waters.

Authorities said Monday it appeared the transponder was deliberately turned off at 1:07 am, but the final communication from the cockpit was broadcast at 1:30 am, indicating that there already was a problem before the last words, News 3 New Zealand reported.

As well, the final statement from co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid — “all right, good night” — was at 1:19 am, just when the plane left Malaysian air space, also suggesting crew complicity in the disappearance. The crew is Malaysian.

The plane vanished from air traffic controllers’ screens at 1:21 am when it was over the South China Sea; however, it was spotted by military radar at 2:15 am over the Malacca Straits. That is the opposite direction from the planned flight path.

Changing times, changing flight paths, changing stories — families are desperate for information.

“Now we have no news, and everyone is understandably worried,” said Wen Wanchen. Her son is a passenger on the flight. “The relatives say they will go to the (Malaysian) embassy to find the ambassador. The Malaysian ambassador should be presenting himself here. But he is not.

“Relatives are very unsatisfied. So you hear them saying, ‘hunger strike,’ ” he told Agence France Presse, as reported by The Guardian.

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Family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wait for news from Malaysia Airlines at a hotel in Beijing
Family members of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 wait for news from Malaysia Airlines at a hotel in Beijing
Barry Ellsworth is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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