Tension rising: A relative of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight speaks to media at a hotel in Beijing. *AFP photo
Tension rising: A relative of passengers from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight speaks to media at a hotel in Beijing. *AFP photo

Relatives of the Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 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. 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 organizing a hunger strike.

“What we want is the truth,” said one woman. “Don’t let the passengers become the victims of a political fight.”

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. Here’s the latest:

Are we any closer to solving the mystery?

No. Satellite data has emerged to suggest the plane flew on for hours after it was reported missing. The search operation is now concentrating on huge areas to the north and south of Malaysia, after locational ‘pings’ detected by a satellite appeared to indicate the plane was somewhere on an arc stretching either north up to Central Asia, or south, to the Indian Ocean and Australia.

Evidence revealed on Saturday by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak suggested the jet was deliberately diverted by someone on board about an hour after takeoff.

When was the last contact made?

Flight MH370 departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 00:41 on Saturday, March 8 and was due to arrive in Beijing at 06:30.

Malaysia Airlines says the plane lost contact less than an hour after takeoff.

No distress signal or message was sent.

The ACARS — a service that allows computers aboard the plane to “talk” to computers on the ground — was silenced some time after 01:07 as the plane crossed Malaysia’s east coast.

At about 01:19 the co-pilot was heard to say: “All right, good night”.

The plane’s transponder, which communicates with ground radar, was shut down soon after this final communication, as the aircraft crossed from Malaysian air traffic control into Vietnamese airspace over the South China Sea.

At 01:37 the next ACARS transmission was due, but never sent.

What happened next?

The plane’s planned route would have taken it north-eastwards, over Cambodia and Vietnam, and the initial search focused on the South China Sea, south of Vietnam’s Ca Mau peninsula.

But evidence from a military radar, revealed later, suggested the plane had suddenly changed from its northerly course to head west. So the search, involving dozens of ships and planes, then switched to the sea west of Malaysia.

MH370’s last communication with a satellite, disclosed a week after the plane’s disappearance, suggested the jet was in one of two flight corridors, one stretching north between Thailand and Kazakhstan, the other south between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean.

The timing of the last confirmed communication with a satellite was 08:11, meaning that the Boeing continued flying for nearly seven hours after contact with air traffic control was lost.

Investigators are making further calculations to establish how far the plane might have flown after the last point of contact.

Who was on board?

The 12 crew members were all Malaysian, led by pilots Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah, 53 and 27-year-old co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.

Police have searched their homes and a flight simulator has been taken from the captain’s home and reassembled for examination at police headquarters.

It is now believed that co-pilot Hamid spoke the last words heard from the plane, “All right, good night” — but it is not clear whether this was before or after the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) had been deliberately switched off.

There were 227 passengers, including 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, according to the manifest. Seven were children. Other passengers came from Iran, the US, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, India, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands. 

Source: BBC