Relatives of passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 protest near the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing on the one year anniversary, Sunday, March 8, 2015. Photo: AP
Chinese relatives of passengers on board the missing flight MH370 protested outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing Sunday to mark one year anniversary since the plane disappeared.
Meanwhile, the first comprehensive report into the mystery of Flight 370 on Sunday revealed that the battery of an underwater locator beacon had expired more than a year before the plane vanished on March 8, 2014. 153 out of the 239 passengers on board were Chinese.
Access to the Malaysian embassy was blocked off by dozens of uniformed security, but in the afternoon as police watched, around 30 relatives mounted a small protest in the area, shouting slogans including "Fight to the End" and "Malaysian Government -- apologise to us!"
Earlier Sunday, at least 30 relatives visited the Lama Temple, a popular Tibetan Buddhist place of worship and tourist site, with around 10 entering the site in groups of two or three to pay their personal respects, as if attempting to keep a low profile.
The remainder waited outside the complex in a group, wearing T-shirts saying "Pray for MH370", and waving placards to photographers reading "MH370 -- Tell us Truth". They said they want to pray for their loved ones' safe return and to maintain pressure for more information from Malaysian authorities, who they believe are concealing information.
Beijing railway worker Zhang Hongjie, 45, brought a birthday cake for his late wife and shared it with the others gathered near the Lama Temple. His wife, Zheng Ruixian, was about to turn 42 and was returning home from a holiday last March 8. She was planning to have a birthday lunch with Zhang.
'Locator beacon battery had expired'
In Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose agencies are leading the hunt, said searchers were about 40% through scouring a 23,000-square-mile area of the southern Indian Ocean expected to conclude in May. And he promised to continue the search "as long as there are reasonable leads."
No debris from the plane has yet been found from the extensive search.
The interim report did not identify any significant areas for concern about the plane or crew. One new issue, however, was that the expiration date for the battery of the locator beacon for the flight data recorder was December 2012 — more than a year before the actual flight. The battery in the cockpit voice recorder's locator beacon was working, the report said.
The report, required by international aviation authorities within one year of an incident, contained profiles of the crew, including their finances and insurance coverage, but found nothing unusual. Much speculation centers on the possibility that the captain or other crewmembers deliberately flew the plane off its scheduled path.
"There were no behavioral signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse of the Captain, First Officer and the Cabin Crew," the report said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress that the search effort for MH370 would continue.
"Today will be a tough day for the next of kin of passengers on board the flight, our hearts are with you," he said, telling the relatives Beijing would "help safeguard your legitimate and lawful requests and interests".