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After 515 Days, Discovered Debris Raises More Questions For Flight 370 Families in China

On August 7, MH370 families sitting in outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing. Photo from Twitter user: Tom Philips

After a week-long examination into debris that washed ashore on French Réunion Island by international investigative teams, Malaysia's Prime Minister “conclusively confirmed” that the flight wing wreckage came from the Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

But French partners in the investigation were more guarded in their press conference. They said they had very “strong presumptions” that the debris came from the Boeing 777, which disappeared in the early hours of March 8, 2014 after it left Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia Airlines even sent an e-mail to families of the missing passengers on August 6, which said that the discovered debris has been jointly confirmed to be from Flight 370 by “French Authorities, Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses pour la Securites de I'Aviation Civile (BEA), the Malaysian Investigation Team, Technical Representative from PRC and Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB).”

These contradictions rekindled frustration among the families of passengers on the missing plane.

Soon Chinese families gathered outside Malaysian Airlines Beijing office on August 6, demanding a full report on the plane crash, lamenting for their missing beloveds. They were barred from entering the building by a few dozen police officers formed. Malaysia Airlines declined the families request to be facilitated in flying to Réunion Island to see the wreckage.

The self-organized families committee issued a letter online, peppering Malaysia Airlines with series of questionable points regarding the wing debris:

对于这样草率并且不透明的认定,家属们很难认同,试问一个如此孤立的残骸,怎能证明飞机的确坠海?又如何能证明该部件是事故中脱落损坏的?若真坠海,为何当初调动了若干卫星扫测南印度洋,连122只海鸥都清晰识别,却无法看到一架由高空坠下的大型波音飞机?!至于曾断言飞机整体入海的“砖家”们,想必也太高估了驾驶员的水平。我们并不是阴谋论者,只是事件如此蹊跷,官方在明知飞机折返的情况下,还坚持诱导多国搜索部队在南海搜索!经家属亲自验证的马尔代夫居民称看到的大型客机直到今日也没有告知到底是哪个航班,来自哪家航空公司!为何飞机的折返点会在整个航行过程最容易产生混乱的空管区交界处?类似的未解答案还有太多太多……

Relatives are finding it hard to agree with this hasty and nontransparent confirmation. How can some debris prove the flight had fallen into the ocean? How did you prove this component broke from the accident? If [the flight] surely fell into the ocean, why were the the several satellites mobilized to scan the Indian Ocean, which clearly recognized 122 seagulls, unable to see a mega Boeing plane fallen from the sky? As for experts whose assertion that the flight was engulfed by the sea, they may overestimate the pilots’ skill. I’m not a person who believes there is a conspiracy [in the accident], but the events are so fishy with the [Malaysian] government knowing that the flight had turned back on the half way of the flight, but they have insisted on including multi-nation teams [in search of the flight] in the South Sea! Relatives of [passengers] had a confirmation from Maldives who had seen a mega plane, but it is still unknown what the flight number was, or which airline the flight belonged to? Why did the plane’s turning point appear at the border of the airspace on the flying route? So many questions are still left unanswered…

In a later interview with Chinese portal website Tencent, the families committee petitioned for a more transparent investigation into the plane’s final destination:

首先这片孤立残骸的鉴定过程并不足够公开透明,我们曾要求官方提供更多的详细照片和数据,分享给公众,由民间人士共同帮助鉴定残骸身份,但官方置之不理。其次,仅仅凭一个所谓残骸就断定飞机坠海,太过牵强,如果真的坠海,一定会有更多的碎片等物证,目前这样的残骸数量,对于飞机最后的下落并不具有任何说服力。

Firstly, the identifying procedure of the isolated debris is nontransparent to the public: our demands — which were ignored by the [Malaysia] government — were that the [Malaysia] government should provide and share with the public more detailed photos and data, and join with [independent] non-government associated people to identify where the debris comes from. Secondly, it is too far-fetched that this so-called debris can prove the flight had fallen into the ocean. If so, there must be more fragments as material evidence. The current wreckage fully cannot persuade where the flight went.

A widely circulated sticker highlighting the 515 sleepless nights of the families of passengers in the missing flight.

A widely circulated sticker highlighting the 515 sleepless nights of the families of passengers on the missing flight.

As China's ruling party-affiliated media the Paper reported on August 7, most families of the missing flight has been plagued by debt disputes left by passengers. But they continue to decline the official compensation unless the investigation reaches a reasonable conclusion.

Relatives continue to be immersed in grief, which is eroding their psychological and physiological condition. On Chinese Twitter-like Weibo, a relative— whose screen name is “A wandering fish”—showed the screenshot of the confirmation e-mail from the Malaysia Airlines on August 6, bringing her emotion nearly to collapse:

515天,我吃不下饭,睡不着觉,在外还要还要装的像正常人一样。几天前查血,血红蛋白已掉到62了。依然强打着精神等你回家。可我等到了什么?凌晨两点马航电邮我说,残骸确定是370的。为什么?我不明白为什么…为什么…

During the last 515 days, I cannot eat and fail to sleep, but I have to pretend to be a normal person outside the home. Several days ago I had a routine blood examination, the value of hemoglobin has dropped by 62 but I still braced up to wait for some news. However, what have I waited for? The e-mail from Malaysia Airlines on 2:00 a.m. confirmed the [wing] debris is a part of the flight 370. But why? I do not know why?

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