Hunger strike off, but anger remains

Updated: 2014-03-20 01:52

By Jin Haixing (China Daily)

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Chinese family members of passengers aboard the missing flight MH370 backed away from a hunger strike that was threatened on Tuesday but became increasingly angry during the daily briefing by Malaysia Airlines on Wednesday.

Many people remained in the conference room after the briefing ended in Beijing's Metropark Lido Hotel.

Hunger strike off, but anger remains

Passengers' and their nationalities:

Chinese 154 
Malaysia 38
India 5
Indonesia 7
Australia 6
France 4
USA 3 
New Zealand 2
Ukraine 2
Canada 2
Russia 1
Italy 1
Netherlands 1
Austria 1

A post appeared on a white board on Tuesday morning, saying, "We demand the truth, and please join the voluntary hunger strike".

On Wednesday, the white board was removed and the hunger strike was forestalled, as several representatives of relatives and volunteer lawyers persuaded people not to participate, especially senior citizens and children.

But the protest never abated.

Furious relatives of the missing passengers demanded that higher authorities communicate with them on Wednesday because they were not satisfied with the airline's representatives.

A spokesman surnamed Song said that he will collect relatives' questions and reply to them soon, but his words were questioned by angry relatives many times as the briefing wore on.

Song said that family members could express their concerns to the Malaysian ambassador to China via e-mail after some relatives demanded a meeting and requested that the ambassador attend the daily briefings.

Relatives also demanded that Song be replaced because they said they did not receive replies to their concerns in a timely fashion.

Although Malaysia Airlines released the phone numbers of its contacts assigned to the four hotels where relatives are staying, and promised 24-hour duty, many relatives said that at least one of the contacts could not be reached.

Song, the airline's spokesman, promised to fix the problem soon.

After the briefing ended, representatives of family members proposed a family-member committee and outlined objectives.

Since Tuesday, families have begun to sign a form to join the committee.

The form said that members of the committee have no special privileges over other relatives, and the group will collect questions from relatives and then negotiate with Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government in a effective way.

One of the aims of the committee was to console family members and avoid extreme behavior, it said.

It will discuss major events involving family members in the future, such as protests to the embassy of Malaysia in Beijing.

So far, more than 460 relatives of missing passengers have remained in Beijing awaiting news of the missing flight.