The agony goes on for MH370 relatives
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Emotional relatives of those aboard doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Thursday, August 6, said they hoped the first proof that it crashed would help finally solve the agonizing mystery, but many also expressed anger and disbelief.
Long-suffering families of the 239 people on board have been waiting since March 8 last year for the first evidence of what happened to the Boeing 777, which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
They have struggled with a desire for closure while holding onto slim hopes their loved ones might still be alive, and some have also strongly criticized Malaysia's handling of the disaster.
Most of those on the plane were Chinese and many still refuse to believe their loved ones are dead -- despite Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's announcement that wreckage found on Reunion island in the Indian Ocean was from the jet.
"I don't believe this latest information about the plane, they have been lying to us from the beginning," said Zhang Yongli, whose daughter was one of 153 Chinese passengers on the flight.
"I know my daughter is out there, but they won't tell us the truth," he added.
Bao Lanfang, whose grandson was also on the plane, told reporters that "everyone has been lying to us," before collapsing on the floor and crying outside the Beijing offices of Malaysia Airlines.
"I will do anything to see him again," the 63-year-old added through her tears.
'Expand the search'
Some families said the confirmation was not enough to lay the matter to rest and demanded to know why the plane went off course, flying for hours after its communications and tracking systems were shut down.
A handwritten statement posted on Chinese social media and signed "all MH370 passengers' relatives" expressed "serious doubts" over Najib's announcement.
They demanded that a high-level Malaysian government representative meet them and "provide explanations".
Najib, whose government has been accused by next-of-kin of a possible cover-up and insensitive treatment of families -- charges that have been vehemently denied -- gave no indication that analysis of the debris had yielded any clues as to the cause of the disappearance.
"Now I want to know where the main body of the plane is so that we can take out the passengers and get the black box so we can know what happened. Only that, for us, will be full closure," said Malaysian Jacquita Gonzales, wife of MH370 chief steward Patrick Gomes.
Fellow Malaysian G. Subramaniam, who lost his son S. Puspanathan, said investigators must now look for more debris.
"We want the authorities to expand the search area closer to Africa where the debris was found to look for the main body and the passengers," he told AFP.
For some relatives, France's more cautious position that the debris likely belonged to the missing plane felt more credible than Najib's announcement.
"There is no formal proof" that the wing part belonged to the MH370 Boeing, said Ghislain Wattrelos, husband and father of three flight passengers.
"It isn't 100% certain" yet, added the Frenchman, while conceding that "this is the first evidence of a presumed crash in a long time."
Sara Weeks, the sister of New Zealand passenger Paul Weeks, welcomed news that debris had finally been found, but said it was "pretty disgusting" that she heard about the confirmation from a reporter and not Malaysian authorities.
She said the latest development simply brought back all the painful memories of losing her brother.
"Anytime anything happens, it takes you right back to the beginning, the same feelings, same everything. But again this time it has been a week of turmoil and that's going to continue for some time," Weeks told the Fairfax New Zealand media group.
There were 6 Australians on board the flight, including Rodney and Mary Burrows from Queensland, who were on a long-planned holiday to celebrate their retirement.
Rodney's father, George Burrows, said he still wanted answers about what actually happened.
"Well, it's news and we hope we might find some more answers but a bit doubtful," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "But anyway, it's better than nothing."
For Elaine Chew, whose husband Tan Size Hiang was a member of the plane's crew, the announcement has brought little relief.
"Where is my husband's body? Have any passengers' belongings been found? No. It's just a piece that they found," she told AFP.
"No, this is not closure for me." – M Jegathesan, AFP/Rappler.com