Tears of grief and ambulance calls in Beijing when families told of MH370 crash

The Malay Mail Online
March 24, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Distraught, the Chinese families of those on board MH370 left a briefing by Malaysia Airlines in Beijing in “profound grief” after hearing that the ill-fated jetliner had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

“Awful scene. Chinese families leaving briefing room, wailing,” tweeted CNN correspondent Pauline Chiou, shortly after the tragic news was delivered, both in Malaysia and in Beijing.

The Chinese made up a bulk of the passengers on board flight MH370, a total of 153 of the 239 people, including 12 crew members and two infants.

“It’s just awful… it is profound, profound grief,” said Chiou in a broadcast on CNN.

“I don’t know how to describe it. It’s just an awful, awful scene,” she said.

Chiou said a screaming woman was seen being taken away on a stretcher towards a waiting ambulance van. Behind her, another person, believed to be the woman’s relative, followed the stretcher to the vehicle.

One man, Chiou said, “lunged” at the media and had to be pulled back by the police.

The chaos was compounded by angry shouts and sounds of weeping relatives, some among whom reportedly lashed out at Malaysia.

The CNN correspondent, who was reporting from Lido Hotel in Beijing, explained that the media were kept away from the Chinese families who were holed up in a room on the hotel’s second floor to await the briefing from MAS.

The briefing, according to CNN, was done about 30 minutes before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s emergency press conference here at 10pm.

According to several news reports, MAS first said in a text message to the families that it is assumed that there were no survivors from MH370 after the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

“We deeply regret that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board have survived… we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean,” the text message said, according to reports.

In contrast, Najib was careful not to say the plane had crashed during his press conference announcement at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) here.

The prime minister said the Boeing 777 aircraft had “ended” its journey in the southern Indian Ocean, a location he described as remote and far from any possible landing site.

He went on to explain that fresh data gleaned from British satellite firm Inmarsat confirmed that the plane had continued its journey towards the southern Indian Ocean and not along the northern arc, which was one of the possible sites identified earlier.

“Its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean west of Perth. This is a remote location… far from any possible landing site.

“It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said.

The Boeing 777 aircraft disappeared off the coast of Kota Baru, Kelantan, less than an hour after take-off at 12.41am on March 8 and has remained missing ever since.

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