Missing Jet

'We Are Helpless': Frustrated Jet Families Leave Malaysia

BEIJING — All but a few Chinese relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines jet planned to return to Beijing Sunday, frustrated after spending nearly a month in Malaysia hearing often varying news about what may have happened to the plane and the 239 people on board.

The flight MH370 families "don't believe they can obtain any more important information in Kuala Lumpur," said Cheng Dongwei, a spokesman for a committee formed by relatives to communicate more effectively with Malaysian officials.

Cheng said the Chinese families were having trouble securing hotel accommodations, even after hours of negotiations with the "Malaysian side."


Still, the mood of the relatives was more "stable now, in part because the government provides us assistance, both medical care and psychological support," Cheng said.

Early Sunday, the families held a prayer service that also drew thousands of Malaysian and Malaysian Chinese supporters. Two-thirds of the passengers on the missing jet were Chinese.

"This is not a prayer for the dead because we have not found bodies. This is a prayer for blessings and that the plane will be found," Liow Tiong Lai, the president of the government coalition party that organized the two-hour session, told the Associated Press.

People hold LED candles as they offer prayers during a mass prayer for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The head of the multinational search for the missing Malaysia airlines jet said that electronic pulses reportedly picked up by a Chinese ship are an encouraging sign but stresses they are not yet verified. Lai Seng Sin / AP

Family members have expressed anger and frustration on several occasions, demanding more information and accusing the Malaysian government of being responsible for the plane's March 8 disappearance.

The "extraordinary assertion that Malaysian authorities were somehow complicit in what happened to MH370" are "completely untrue," Malaysia's defense minister and acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein said Saturday.

On Sunday, the families were generally quiet and in wait-and-see mood after news that three "acoustic events" consistent with the jet's black box were detected in the Indian Ocean.

But those "pulses" have not been confirmed as related to the missing jet, Australian Air Marshal Angus Houston said.

Chinese relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 hold LED candles as they offer prayers during a mass prayer for the missing plane, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The writing on the t-shirts read "Praying that MH370 returns home safely." Lai Seng Sin / AP

The regular nighttime update for press and the families was cancelled on Sunday, following the announcement of pulses, which Houston called an "important and encouraging lead.”

"Regarding the search operations and the news and information being reported, we remain dissatisfied, but we cannot do anything about it — we are helpless," said Cheng.

— with Elisha Fieldstadt