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Rediff.com  » News » Flight 370: Relatives clash with police in China, seek truth

Flight 370: Relatives clash with police in China, seek truth

March 25, 2014 16:57 IST

Over 300 angry relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the Malaysian airliner on Tuesday clashed with security personnel outside Malaysia's embassy in Beijing as China demanded the truth about the jet's mysterious crash.

In a rare show of public anger in China, grief-stricken families and friends marched on the embassy to protest the way investigation into tracing the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 -- carrying 239 people, 154 of whom were Chinese -- was handled.

According to eyewitnesses, protesters threw water bottles and demanded to meet the ambassador as they tried to storm the building.

Earlier, the relatives -- some in tears -- linked arms and marched peacefully holding placards and chanting "Malaysian government has cheated us" and "Malaysia, return our relatives".

The protest came after the relatives gathered at a hotel -- where many of the kin were put up by the Malaysian airlines during the last two weeks -- and geared up to take out a march to the embassy following which security was stepped up around the hotel and even riot police were deployed, state-run CCTV reported.

Clashes broke out when security personnel tried to resist attempts by some relatives from approaching reporters outside the embassy.

They shouted, "return our relatives and "the Malaysian government are murderers".

The demonstration came a day after an announcement by Malaysian authorities that the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 had crashed in a remote part of southern Indian Ocean.

On Monday night, emotional and violent scenes prevailed at the hotel after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the plane "ended" at the Indian Ocean off the Australian coast.

CCTV showed a statement released by relatives of Chinese passengers questioning the premise that the plane has crashed as stated by Razak. The statement said there is no direct evidence to show the plane had crashed.

It also accused the Malaysian government of cheating the families and the world by withholding information which hindered the search operations and wasted valuable time.

A surprised Chinese government itself appeared to be questioning Razak's conclusion that the jet had crashed in southern Indian Ocean.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng, who held a meeting with the Malysian Ambassador Monday night, demanded Malaysia to provide "specific basis on which they come to this judgement".

He demanded the Malaysian side to provide all information and evidence related to the analysis of satellite data.

Xie urged Malaysia to continue all the relevant work including search and rescue for the missing plane, which carried 239 people.

Xie emphasised that the search and rescue work must not stop at the moment.

Chinese maritime authorities said late last night that they will send more vessels to the waters of the southern Indian Ocean to search and salvage wreckage of Malaysia Airline MH370.

China has already sent some six vessels to the area where two Chinese IL-76 aircraft are scouring the rough seas for the missing plane that carried 154 Chinese passengers.

During the meeting with Malaysian Ambassador Iskandar Bin Sarudin, Xie said China pays great attention to Malaysia's announcement that the missing plane ended in the Indian Ocean.

"We have noticed that the Malaysian side said it will make further elaboration on related details," Xie said.

Image: A relative of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines MH370 cries at the Lido hotel in Beijing,

Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

K J M Varma in Beijing
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