Missing plane relatives’ told to return home


Chinese relatives of the missing passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were on Friday given until 6pm (1000 GMT) local time to vacate the hotel rooms they have occupied in Beijing since the plane went missing on March 8.

Malaysia Airlines said on Thursday that the families should go home and await news there.

Malaysia Airlines had on Thursday issued a statement to relatives announcing it would close all of its Family Assistance Centres around the world by 7 May, but said it would establish centres in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, and would keep in close touch with the relatives through phone calls and meetings.

On Friday morning, relatives staying in the three different hotels provided in Beijing received news that they had until the evening to vacate their rooms and return home.

Steve Wang, a relative of a missing passenger and a self-appointed spokesman for the families, said that the timetable was too rushed.

He feared that once everybody had left Beijing, it would be even more difficult for the families, some living in remote parts of China, to stay up to date with the search and rescue efforts.

“We want to stay here because we don’t believe Malaysia Airlines can provide a platform to communicate,” he said, speaking outside the Lido Hotel, after a police officer asked reporters to conduct interviews on the street.

“Every time, they cannot send, even when something big happened, they cannot send the message to all of the next of kins, some of the relatives may be ignored.”

He said the family committee was in touch with other countries’ family committees and that they would keep on fighting to get answers from Malaysia Airlines.

There was a heavy police presence on Friday at the Lido Hotel and Apartments, one of three hotels in Beijing where relatives were staying.

According to Wang, police officers were stationed inside on every floor of the Lido Apartments, the apartment complex outside the Lido Hotel where the relatives have been staying, in case they create trouble before checking out.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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