Impatient relatives lash out over pace of Flight 370 search

BEIJING — The Globe and Mail

A family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reacts as he watches a message board dedicated to the passengers onboard the missing plane at a hotel in Beijing March 20, 2014. Search aircraft and ships are investigating two objects floating in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia that could be debris from a Malaysian jetliner missing for 12 days with 239 people on board, officials said on Thursday. (KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS)

For the searchers scouring a vast swath of ocean for a vanished airliner, the objects on the satellite images provided hope on Thursday that the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may be found.

But in the Beijing hotel that has become the outlet for fury and desperation among families of those on that flight, the images offered little.

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The families have now endured a wait of nearly two weeks, with each bit of new information, to this point, yielding nothing. For Wen Wancheng, whose son was on the Boeing 777, the possible debris located on Australian satellite images served only to provoke anger.

The long wait means the best search window has already been “lost,” he said, spitting out his words outside the family room on the second floor of Beijing’s Lido Hotel.

He lashed out at the inability by authorities to quickly identify radar and satellite signals that only in recent days directed search efforts to the waters some 2,500 kilometres southwest of Australia, where the satellite spotted two large objects in the water.

Even those images offered reason for anger, with a date stamp of March 16, four days earlier. Malaysian authorities said it was unclear when the images were captured.

But for the families, the seemingly lengthy delays are “the same as killing people,” said Mr. Wen, nearly shouting. “This is murder.”

Yet for some of those with loved ones aboard the plane, hope lingers. Family members have scrawled messages on a paper inside a room at the Lido Hotel. Photos of the messages posted on Chinese social media offer a window into their continuing agony.

One is addressed to “dear husband,” and says: “Every day I insist on calling you and sending you a QQ [mobile chat] message. I firmly believe that I will definitely see you. Today is my birthday. Did you forget it?”

A son writes to his father: “I just want to see your face. I just want to hold your hand. I just to want to listen to what you have to teach me.”

A wife to her husband: “You must be strong. I am waiting for you.”

Another, written to “Little Bean,” says: “I have bought your favourite Tiffany and Co. ring for you. I am waiting for you to come back so I can put the ring on your finger and ask you to marry me.”