MH370 search op suspended: Chinese families call it ‘wrong, irresponsible’

Members of at least three families of victims from Beijing termed the move as insensitive. At least one of them said even the Chinese working group for affected families had stopped communicating.

world Updated: Jan 18, 2017 18:45 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
MH370,Malaysian Airlines,Search operation
Relatives of passengers aboard the MH370 have denounced the authorities’ decision to suspend search operations for want of new evidence of the aircraft’s whereabouts. (Reuters photo)

The family members of a group of Chinese passengers who presumably died aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have lashed out against the decision to indefinitely suspend the search for the aircraft, calling it a “wrong, sloppy and unilateral” choice made by the authorities.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. Of the 239 people on board, 153 passengers were from China.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, members of at least three such families in Beijing termed the decision as insensitive and “completely wrong”. At least one of them said even the Chinese working group for affected families had stopped communicating.

A statement released on Tuesday by Malaysian minister of transport Sri Liow Tiong Lai, Australian minister for transport Darren Chester and Chinese minister of transport Li Xiaopeng said the underwater search would be suspended indefinitely in light of no new evidence of the airplane’s whereabouts.

Read: Aus defends end of MH370 hunt; study to continue, search could resume in future

“Today, the last search vessel has left the underwater search area. Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has not been located in the 120,000-square kilometre underwater search area in southern Indian Ocean,” China’s official news agency Xinhua quoted from the statement.

Three years ago, angry Chinese families had marched through the streets of Beijing, entered into scuffles with airlines members, and raised slogans against alleged lack of transparency in sharing information on the sequence of events.

Today, Jiang Hui – whose mother was on the ill-fated flight – feels “disappointed, helpless and angry”. Besides the “wrong decision” to call off the search, he expressed frustration over the callousness with which the authorities made announcements related to the operation over the years.

Read: Malaysia Airlines MH370 mystery: What happened to flight, where did it go down?

“Take, for instance, the time they announced in 2015 that the plane had crashed. An elderly family member became too emotional after reading the news, and died. It was irresponsible and improper,” Jiang said.

Xu, whose 67-year-old mother was on the flight, termed the suspension as “unreasonable”.

“It is definitely wrong. Once, the Australian PM said the location of the crash was here. But when nothing was found, they just planned to end up with nothing definite,” she told HT.

Xu said a Malaysian Airlines official informed her about the suspension of the search on Tuesday afternoon. “But when I asked him about their plans for the future, he said he didn’t know. He said he will have to find out.”

Wen didn’t want to talk about her husband, who was on the flight, but she reacted to the suspension with anger. “It was wrong from the beginning – it (the crash) did not occur in the South Indian Ocean. They can suspend the search, but they should start anew. It is very irresponsible to have no plan,” she said.

Wen said contact with Chinese officials following up on the search was also broken over the months. “There used to be a working group responsible for family chores before. But now it seems they no longer have any staffers,” she said.

Malay Mukherjee, whose son Muktesh Mukherjee and daughter-in-law Xiaomo Bai were on the flight, reacted similarly over email. “Very disappointed and pained to know that the search for the MH370 has been suspended indefinitely. Now we will never have closure, and our orphaned grandsons will never know what happened to their parents,” said Mukherjee, a well-known face in the steel industry.

He accused Malaysian Airlines of always being uncaring and unsympathetic to relatives of the missing passengers. “This is just another chapter in their callous approach to the tragedy,” Mukherjee said.

First Published: Jan 18, 2017 12:44 IST