Families of Missing Passengers Reaching a Boiling Point
Emotional Family Members Protest Investigation of Disappeared Malaysia Flight 370
By LIZ FIELDS
Mar. 19, 2014
Protests erupted at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur today among family members of the passengers who vanished along with Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 nearly two weeks ago.
The chaos began when angry family members unfurled a banner in the press briefing auditorium and began shouting at Malaysian officials about a delayed search and demanding "the truth."
As police dragged the angry family members out the room and through passages through the Sama Sama Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the relatives screamed and wailed amid a crush of cameras and jostling crowd.
The relatives were taken to a holding room with two entrances. At one entrance, police created a diversion by shouting and pushing through the melee while at the other door officers charged out, escorting at least one woman, who had her face and head covered, away from the scene.
Media chased the family members and police through the hotel lobby, down several long hallways and up escalators before police eventually took control of the situation and stopped camera crew from going any further.
Daily news conferences have been held for family members of the 227 passengers -- the vast majority of them Chinese nationals or ethnic Chinese -- and escalating tensions have provoked relatives to pelt water bottles at officials on at least one occasion. Flight 370 also had 12 crew members on board. The families claim the Malaysian government is withholding vital information, and have announced they would go on hunger strike until they received the truth.
The Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said today he sympathizes with the relatives and that one of the main priorities is now to â€œmanage emotionsâ€? and â€œappease the families.â€?
"I fully understand what they are going through emotions are high," Hishammuddin said. "We are sending another high-level team to travel to Beijing to explain what we are doing and I hope that I appeal to everybody that we fully understand their concerns. We are trying our very best and it is heart-wrenching. Even for me."