MH370: Relatives unconvinced by debris

Relatives of MH370 passengers speak in Kuala Lumpur on 5 August. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Malaysian relatives include (L to R) Choi Loong Chow, Lee Khim Fatt, Elaine Chew, Jacquita Gonzales, and Melanie Antonio

The announcement by Malaysian authorities that the aeroplane part found in Reunion came from MH370 has drawn a mixed reaction from relatives of passengers and crew.

The finding bolsters the theory that the plane, which disappeared on 8 March last year after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, crashed into the Indian Ocean after diverting from its route to Beijing.

French investigators say there are further checks to do, while Australia says its underwater search will go on.

But for some relatives, this is the first step to closure.

'Much mistrust'

Sarah Bajc whose partner was on MH370, told the BBC: "Perhaps families will finally have the chance to grieve now, though this doesn't solve the mystery or hold anyone accountable. Both of those things still have to happen."

She added that there was still "much outstanding mistrust" of the authorities. "It hurts to have to give up that last thread of hope, but there is also a sad relief," she said.

They are now hoping for more concrete proof.

Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of a MH370 flight attendant, told Reuters: "They still need to find the whole plane and our spouses as well. We still want them back."

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Media captionThe BBC's Jonathan Head speaks to Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick was an in-flight supervisor on flight

Lee Khim Fatt, whose wife was a flight attendant on MH370, told the BBC: "I'm not convinced by the finding. I want to see an item that I can recognise."

"The finding of debris does not mean the finding of our next of kin," said Jiang Hui, who lost his mother, to AP news agency.

"I'm numb, I'm not sad," said Melanie Antonio in Kuala Lumpur, whose husband was on the plane.

"It's just a flaperon, it doesn't prove anything. We still need the wreckage to prove. I just want anything that can tell me my hubby is gone.''

Some, like Zhang Yongli in China, continue to believe there has been a cover-up.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Zhang wore a poster with Chinese President Xi Jinping's face, that said: "Xi Jinping will help us, our country will help us! Relatives will surely get good news!"

He was among a dozen grieving relatives who gathered outside the Beijing office of Malaysia Airlines on Thursday. They demanded information and a visa to travel to Reunion, reported Reuters.

"I don't believe this latest information about the plane, they have been lying to us from the beginning," said Mr Zhang.

"I know my daughter is out there, but they won't tell us the truth."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Several relatives of Chinese passengers believe in a deeper conspiracy behind the disappearance of plane

'Get everybody on the same page'

Some of the relatives have been angered by the difference in Malaysian authorities and French investigators' responses.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier said that investigators had "conclusively confirmed" the debris was from MH370.

But shortly afterwards the Paris prosecutor Serge Mackowiak sounded a note of caution, and would only say it was a "very high probability".

Sara Weeks, whose brother was onboard the flight, told AP news agency: "Why the hell do you have one confirm and one not? Why not wait and get everybody on the same page so the families don't need to go through this turmoil.''

Relatives were similarly angered by the Malaysian response last year.

About two weeks after the plane disappeared, Mr Najib announced it had crashed into the ocean based on satellite data, while Malaysia Airlines informed relatives by text message.

This prompted criticism from relatives that the authorities were too hasty in making that conclusion, as they had yet to find any wreckage or debris, and were acting with insufficient sensitivity.