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:


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:


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:


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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