Malaysia missing plane: Relatives threaten hunger strike

"Telling us lies": Relatives vented their anger during a meeting with officials

Relatives of the Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight have threatened a hunger strike if the Malaysian authorities fail to provide more accurate information.

Families vented their anger at a meeting with the airline in Beijing.

Officials in Malaysia say they are trying to narrow the search area, which now covers about 2.24m square nautical miles (7.68m sq km).

Flight MH370 went missing on 8 March with 239 people on board.

Some 25 countries are involved in looking for the plane.

Map showing search area for MH370

A total of 153 Chinese nationals were on board the missing aircraft, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

China's state media has been criticising the Malaysian operation.

'Political fight'

Some Chinese relatives have said they believe the Malaysian authorities are holding information back and have demanded more clarity.

After a meeting with officials from Malaysia Airlines on Tuesday, families held a vote on organising a hunger strike.

"What we want is the truth," said one woman.

"Don't let the passengers become the victims of a political fight."

Malaysian authorities say that finding the missing plane is still their priority

Ahmad Jauhari Yahy, chief executive of Malaysia Airlines, told a news conference on Monday that the airline was doing everything it could for the families.

Meanwhile, following speculation about the pilot's links to Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has said: "The search for flight MH370 is bigger than politics."

Captain Zaharie Shah was a supporter of the jailed politician.

Mr Hussein praised the international response to the search efforts and said teams were continuing to search two vast air corridors north and south of the plane's last known location.

He added that the Malaysian authorities still believed the disappearance was a result of "deliberate action" on the plane.

'No terror links'

Malaysia says the plane was intentionally diverted and could have flown on either a northern or southern arc from its last known position in the Malacca Straits.

China said earlier it had started searching its territory for the aircraft.

The Chinese ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, also said background checks had shown no evidence to suggest any of the Chinese passengers had terror links, Xinhua news agency reported.

A woman looks at messages of support left for family members and passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on 18 March 2014 Messages of support have been left for the people on board flight MH370 at Kuala Lumpur airport
Family members of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 react as they listen to a briefing from the airline company at a hotel in Beijing, 18 March 2014 Relatives of the missing passengers have been waiting desperately for updates for 11 days

China said it had also deployed 21 satellites to help with the search.

What is ACARS?

  • Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System is a service that allows computers aboard the plane to "talk" to computers on the ground, relaying in-flight information about the health of its systems
  • Messages are transmitted either by radio or digital signals via satellites, and can cover anything from the status of the plane's engines to a faulty toilet
  • This provides ground crews with vital diagnostic information, allowing maintenance to be carried out more quickly

Thailand's air force said on Tuesday a re-examination of its radar data found what may have been the plane travelling west towards the Straits of Malacca shortly after it lost contact with air traffic controllers.

The Thai military had previously said it had not detected any sign of the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (Amsa) said it had narrowed down its search area in the southern Indian Ocean based on satellite data and analysis of the aircraft's possible movements.

However, Amsa said the search area was still vast.

The Malaysia Airlines plane left Kuala Lumpur at 00:40 local time (16:40 GMT) on 8 March. The last transmission from the plane's Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was received at 01:07.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes in Kuala Lumpur says search planes have been grounded because of red tape

A transmission expected 30 minutes later did not come through, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told reporters on Monday.

The last words from the plane - "all right, good night" - were believed to have been said by co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid to air traffic controllers at 01:19 as the plane left Malaysian airspace.

It then disappeared from air traffic controllers' screens at 01:21, when it was over the South China Sea, but was last spotted by military radar at 02:15 over the Malacca Straits - the opposite direction from its planned flight path.

Satellite communication at 08:11 showed that the plane could have continued flying for a further seven hours in a northern or southern arc.

Several countries have already rejected the suggestion that their airspace might have been breached.

More on This Story

MH370 mystery

More Asia stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • UnderwaterHidden depths

    How do you explore the bottom of the ocean? BBC Future finds out

Programmes

  • A model with a projection mapped onto her faceClick Watch

    Face hacking - how to use a computer to turn your face into a work of digital art

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.