One day after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving no survivors, distraught Chinese families demonstrated in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing and demanded answers.
More than half of the 239 people on board the plane were Chinese, and news of the crash has hit especially hard in the country, as has the sense that Malaysia did not do enough to find the wreckage. Reuters describes the scene at the embassy:
About 20 to 30 protesters threw water bottles at the Malaysian embassy and tried to storm the building, demanding to meet the ambassador, witnesses said. Earlier, the relatives, many with tear-stained faces, had linked arms and chanted "Malaysian government has cheated us" and "Malaysia, return our relatives" as they marched peacefully and held banners.
A group saying it represents the families called Malaysia's government, military and the airline "executioners" who were dishonest with anxious families. "We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three," the members said in a statement, adding:
From March 8 when they announced that MH370 lost contact to today, 18 days have passed during which the Malaysian government and military constantly tried to delay, deceive the passengers' families and cheat the whole world. This shameless behavior not only fooled and hurt the families of the 154 passengers but also misguided and delayed rescue actions, wasting a large quantity of human resources and materials and lost valuable time for the rescue effort. If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed them.
As is clear from the statement, the families are having trouble accepting that their relatives are really without hard proof of the plane's demise. On Monday, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng asked Malaysia to turn over all of the data it had cited in determining that the plane had crashed.
But debris or other tangible evidence of the plane's crash will be harder to come by. Australia called off its search today due to bad weather, and officials said that at this stage the mission is not like looking for a needle in a haystack, but like looking for the haystack. Even worse, only a few days remain before the plane's black boxes will run out of power and stop transmitting their location.
Malaysia's Acting Transportation Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, however, said in a press conference earlier today that the search efforts are continuing:
We are currently working to further narrow down the search area, using the four methods I mentioned previously -- gathering information from satellite surveillance, analysis of surveillance radar data, increasing air and surface assets, and increasing the number of technical and subject matter experts.
Malaysian officials also offered some more details on what they know so far, but it's not much:
No response was received from the aircraft ... when the ground earth station sent the next log on/log off message. This indicates that the aircraft was no longer logged on to the network. Therefore ... the aircraft was no longer able to communicate with the ground station. This is consistent with the maximum endurance of the aircraft.
When asked about the country's effort to find the plane, Hussein offered yet another tentative statement: "If there is hope — even against hope — we will do whatever it takes."