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China demands Malaysia turn over satellite data

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — China demanded Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines jetliner had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean as gale-force winds and heavy rain Tuesday halted efforts to search for any remains of the plane.

The suspension in the search comes after a somber announcement late Monday by Prime Minister Najib Razak saying the jet had gone down in the sea with no survivor. But it also left unanswered many troubling questions about why Flight 370, en route to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared, was so far off-course.

It also unleashed a storm of sorrow and anger among the families of the plane's 239 passengers and crew — two-thirds of them Chinese. Family members of the missing passengers have complained bitterly about a lack of reliable information and some say they are not being told the whole truth.

Nearly 100 relatives and their supporters marched on the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, where they threw plastic water bottles, tried to rush the gate and chanted, "Liars!"

Many were wearing white T-shirts that read "Let's pray for MH370" as they held banners and shouted, "Tell the truth! Return our relatives!"

There was a heavy police presence at the embassy and there was a brief scuffle between police and a group of relatives who tried to approach journalists.

Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's ambassador to Beijing that China wanted to know exactly what led Najib to announce that the plane had been lost, a statement on the ministry's website said.

Malaysia Airlines Chairman Mohammed Nor Mohammed Yusof said at a news conference Tuesday that it may take time for further answers to come clear.

"This has been an unprecedented event requiring an unprecedented response," he said. "The investigation still underway may yet prove to be even longer and more complex than it has been since March 8th."

He added that even though no wreckage of the Boeing 777 has been found, there was no doubt it had crashed.

"This by the evidence given to us, and by rational deduction, we could only arrive at that conclusion: That is, for Malaysia Airlines to declare that it has lost its plane, and by extension, the people in the plane," he said.

The airline's chief executive, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said although there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, there has been no definitive identification of any debris. For several days now, search planes have been scouring seas 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth, Australia, and have spotted several floating objects, but none have been retrieved or proven to be from the missing plane.

"It is impossible to predict how long this will take. But after 17 days, the announcement made last night and shared with the families is the reality which we must now accept," he said.

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 Missing flight crashed in Indian Ocean: data 
A relative of Chinese passengers on board a missing Malaysia Airlines plane breaks down as she protests outside the Malaysia Embassy in Beijing, China, Tuesday, March 25.

(AP)

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