| BEIJING, March 8
BEIJING, March 8 Chinese relatives of passengers
on a Malaysia Airlines flight missing between Kuala
Lumpur and Beijing on Saturday angrily accused the airline of
keeping them in the dark, while state media criticised the
carrier's poor response.
Relatives were taken to a hotel near Beijing airport, put in
a room and told to wait for information from the airline, but
none came. Malaysia Airlines said at least 152 of the 227
passengers on flight MH370 were Chinese.
About 20 people stormed out of the room at one point,
enraged they had been given no information.
"There's no one from the company here, we can't find a
single person. They've just shut us in this room and told us to
wait," said one middle-aged man, who declined to give his name.
"We want someone to show their face. They haven't even given
us the passenger list," he said.
Another relative, trying to evade a throng of reporters,
muttered: "They're treating us worse than dogs."
Amid chaotic scenes, an unidentified Malaysia Airlines
official spoke to reporters for just a few minutes without
taking questions before leaving.
"We are working with authorities who have activated the
search and rescue teams," the official said. "Our thoughts and
prayers are deeply with the affected passengers and their family
Adding to the confusion, the official mentioned a rumour
that the Chinese government has already denied - that the
aircraft had landed in the southern Chinese city of Nanning.
"There have been speculations that the aircraft has landed
in Nanning. We are working to verify the authenticity of the
report of others," the official said.
Some Chinese media reported that he meant a place in Vietnam
called Nanming. It was unclear exactly what he was talking
Chinese media outlets took to their official Weibo
microblogs to criticise the airline for taking so long to
announce what was going on and for refusing to answer questions.
"Malaysia Airlines, why did you wait for five hours after
losing contact with the aircraft to first announce the news, and
why did you only have a news conference after almost 13 hours?"
the official Xinhua news agency wrote on one of its Weibo
Sanved Kolekar, an Indian working in Beijing, stood stunned
at the airport where he was waiting for his parents who were
coming over on a visit.
"My parents are on the flight, they were supposed to come
here at 6.30, I don't know what happened," he said. "They
haven't given me any information, it's very difficult because I
don't understand the local language."
Malaysia Airlines said people from at least 14 nationalities
were among the 227 passengers.
Chinese media said at least 24 artists and their family
members were aboard, returning from an art exchange forum,
including a well-known calligrapher.
At least two names on a passenger list released by Beijing
police appeared to have been redacted, with the names pixillated
out, leading to online speculation that they could have been
ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim people from the restive far western
Chinese region of Xinjiang.
The government has not confirmed this, and it was not
possible to reach Beijing police for comment.