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Chinese relatives of MH370 demand more answers

Zhang Meiling, second from right, whose daughter and son-in-law were passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, gestures while speaking to journalists outside of the company's offices in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015. Photo: AP

Relatives of Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 expressed anger and disbelief and demanded an explanation from Malaysian officials who announced Thursday that debris found on a remote island was from the airplane.

Almost 20 relatives marched to the Beijing office of Malaysia Airlines on Thursday to make their voices heard, before moving onto the Beijing office of Boeing to demand more details about the investigation.

"We don't care about the flight wreckage, we want the people on the flight," said Zhang Yongli, a 64-year-old Beijing native, whose daughter was onboard the flight.

"I don't believe this latest information about the plane, they have been lying to us from the beginning," said Zhang.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak earlier on Thursday announced that a team of international experts in Toulouse had "conclusively confirmed" that the aircraft debris was from MH370.

But French prosecutors used more cautious language, saying only there was a "very high probability" the wreckage came from the ill-fated plane, and that more tests were needed before making a definitive conclusion.

The two-meter-long chunk of wreckage was found on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion last week and examined by a team of experts Wednesday in France.

The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8 last year with 239 passengers and crew members on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The plane has not been found despite a massive surface and underwater search, in what has become one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history.

Among the 227 passengers, 154 are Chinese. They have struggled with a desire for closure while holding onto slim hopes their loved ones might still be alive, and some have also strongly criticised Malaysia's handling of the disaster.

They said the confirmation was not enough to lay the matter to rest and demanded to know why the plane went off course, flying for hours after its communications and tracking systems were shut down.

Zhang Jianyi, a 59-year-old Anhui native whose daughter and son-in-law and their son were on the flight, said he would not believe the finding because many other parts, such as chairs and life jackets, could have been more easily found than the wing part.

"There will be lots of debris. But so far only a single piece of wreckage has been found," he said.

"If local cleaners can make a discovery, so can we. I believe we should be given a part to play if there has been a breakthrough with the discovery," Zhang said.

China on Thursday asked Malaysia to continue investigating the cause of the MH370 accident. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that the Chinese government expresses grief and sorrow for those on board, and extends profound sympathies and condolences to their families.

The Chinese government requests the Malaysian side to act on its commitment, continue the investigation into the cause of the accident, provide the families with the necessary help and uphold their lawful rights and interests, she said.


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