Family members of Chinese passengers from the missing Flight MH370 meet the media outside the Yonghegong Lama temple in Beijing. - AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin
BEIJING: Distraught Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Flight MH370 on Friday called for Malaysia to withdraw its declaration that all onboard had died in an accident, shunning offers of compensation.
Malaysian authorities on Thursday formally declared that all 239 the passengers and crew onboard the lost Malaysia Airlines plane -- two-thirds of whom were Chinese -- were presumed dead for the first time.
"We call on Malaysia to withdraw their statement. It lacks a basis in evidence," said Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the plane, calling on authorities to apologise.
"They gave up searching for survivors after 40 days."
More than 100 Chinese relatives of the lost passengers are requesting Malaysia take back their statement, according to posts in an online group they use.
Family members, some of whom burst into tears as they spoke to reporters near a Buddhist temple in Beijing, said they had received little advance warning of the announcement -- echoing complaints from distraught relatives in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.
"Malaysia ignored the right of relatives to know the news first," Jiang added.
Furious accusations from Chinese relatives that Malaysia had covered-up information about the loss of the flight during the 10-month investigation drew Beijing into the fray, straining bilateral ties.
Malaysia's official declaration that MH370 was an "accident," opens the door for compensation payments -- but several relatives who spoke to AFP said they were not interested in compensation without further investigations.
"We don't want money. We want the truth about what happened," said Hu Xiufang, whose only child, daughter-in-law and grandson were on the plane.
Chinese media reported on Friday that the father of an MH370 passenger died suddenly at his home just three hours after hearing the plane was missing.
Li Xiaohui, 60, whose son was onboard, had no known serious medical problems at the time of his death, a state-run outlet called The Paper reported.
The relatives in China have formed a loose-knit group to express their demands, but China is wary of any unofficial organisations and they have met with harassment from police.
Around a dozen policemen on Friday surrounded relatives of MH370 passengers outside the temple, telling them not to speak to reporters and ordering journalists to leave the scene.
"The police stop us from speaking out, and threaten us," added Dai Shuqin, whose younger sister was on the plane. "They bully us, that's what Chinese police are like."
- Source: AFP