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Monday, 10 March 2014

Family members of missing passengers demand answers

BEIJING: As time ticks away, the anxiety in Lido Hotel escalates.

The whereabouts of the missing MH370 flight still have not been identified and no answers could be given.

Family members of affected passengers are understandably distraught.

They were eager for latest updates, and hopefully a positive one that would bring their loved ones home.

Malaysia Airlines in Beijing, which has set up a command centre at Lido Hotel here, was their only official source of news, but it has yet to announce the very piece of news that they want to hear so badly.

According to media reports, tension ran high and the family members issued an ultimatum yesterday.

They demanded for an answer by 5pm and wanted the Chinese Foreign Ministry to pay attention and provide a solution to the issue.

Malaysia Airlines regional senior vice-president Greater China Joshua Law Kok Hwa, who headed the command centre, has not caught a wink since he was awakened by a phone call at 5.20am on Saturday.

“I jumped out of bed immediately when I got the call from headquarters,” he said.

According to an emergency response plan, he was the steering command centre chairman.

Each of the 21 employees in the MAS Beijing office has a specific, pre-assigned role to play during these times.

Lido Hotel was one of the hotels that MAS has prior agreement with to provide logistics during emergencies.

When Law arrived at Lido at 7.15am, the hotel staff had almost finished setting up the command centre.

Next-of-kin of affected passengers were transported to the hotel from the airport and journalists who heard of the news began to crowd at the lobby.

“No one wants this to happen,” Law said.

Amid the speculations and rumours abound, MAS Beijing could only relay official announcements from the headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

“The announcements were the same again and again. No, we still haven’t found the aircraft; and we refute the rumours made. The families felt that we kept giving them the same information.

“I fully understand their frustration and I feel very bad for them. But we could only announce verified information obtained from the authorities and not any information that has been reported in the media,” Law said.

As of last evening, the command centre has coordinated with relevant authorities to assist family members on matters related to the issuance of passports and visas.

Go Team members were also notified to help the family members with their applications.

Some 150 family members were housed at three different hotels in Beijing pending further arrangements.

Tags / Keywords: Regional , MAS flight , KL , Beijing , missing flight , MH370


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