MH370 families ‘answers, more answers and closure’

Families aching for closure after their relatives disappeared aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last year vented deep frustration yesterday at conflicting signals from Malaysia and France over whether the finding of a plane part had been confirmed.

Bao Lanfang, whose daughter-in-law, son, and granddaughter were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, kneels in grief in Beijing. Picture: AP
Bao Lanfang, whose daughter-in-law, son, and granddaughter were aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, kneels in grief in Beijing. Picture: AP

“Why the hell do you have one confirm and one not?” asked Christchurch, New Zealand, resident Sara Weeks, whose brother Paul Weeks was aboard the flight that disappeared on 8 March, 2014 with 239 people aboard while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

“Why not wait and get everybody on the same page so the families don’t need to go through this turmoil?” she said.

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Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak announced overnight that a plane wing section found on the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean was “conclusively confirmed” to be from Flight MH370, saying he hoped the news would end “unspeakable” uncertainty.

The announcement was in line with the Malaysian conclusion that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean, killing all aboard.

But French officials with custody of the wing part said only that there were strong indications the barnacle-encrusted part – known as a “flaperon” – was from the flight and that they would work further to try to confirm the finding.

“After 17 months, we need definite answers,” Ms Weeks said. “We need to progress, get answers, move toward further answers, and get some closure along the line.”

About two-thirds of the passengers were from China, and in the Chinese capital, Xu Jinghong said she could not understand why Malaysian and French authorities did not make their announcement together.

“I am very angry – so angry that my hands and feet are cold,” Ms Xu, 41, said in an interview yesterday outside her home in Beijing. “The announcement was made without experts from France present. I don’t understand how the procedure can be like this.”

The announcement by Mr Razak would appear to give the first strong physical evidence of a crash, which could put to rest several theories that many relatives have refused to rule out, including that the plane and its passengers were hijacked and intact in a ecret location.

Irene Burrows, the 85-year-old mother of missing Australian passenger Rod Burrows, who was lost with his wife Mary, said in interview last year that she didn’t expect the mystery of Flight MH370’s disappearance to be solved in her lifetime. She said at the time: “All I just want is a bit of the plane. It’s all I want to know – where they are.”

For her, the confirmation was a simple wish come true.

“We’re quite pleased that it’s been found,” she said from her home in Australia’s north-east.

However, for many relatives, any potential certainty was diluted by the word from Paris, where deputy prosecutor Serge Mackowiak said the “very strong conjectures” that the wing part was from the missing Boeing 777 needed to be “confirmed by complementary analysis” that began yesterday.

It was unclear whether the mix-up was a result of ­miscommunication.