Families Of Malaysia Airlines Plane Crash Victims Call For New Search

Relatives of scores of Chinese passengers who perished when a Malaysia Airlines jet went missing nearly ten years ago demanded a new inquiry Monday, as a Beijing court began hearing their latest compensation claim.

The MH370 plane went missing on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people, the majority of whom were Chinese.

According to official broadcaster CCTV, more than 40 families have filed lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and the Allianz insurance firm.

According to Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer quoted by CCTV, the families’ legal concerns center on compensation and uncovering the facts about the flight’s disappearance.

Only a few bits of wreckage were recovered from a 120,000-square-kilometer (46,000-square-mile) search zone in the Indian Ocean.

The greatest aviation operation in history, spearheaded by Australia, was called off in January 2017.

The families issued an open letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Monday, requesting a new search for the missing plane on a “No find, No fee” premise.

“Our family members hope to search for flight MH370 on our own,” the letter said, adding “family members are willing to invest their own money or cooperate with capable individuals and companies”.

They asked for “effective communication” with the Malaysian government to kick off a new hunt.

Outside the court, many relatives were on the verge of tears as they recounted stories of their loved ones, some holding pieces of paper saying “restart the search” and “open, fair, impartial”.

Bao Lanfang lost her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in the disaster, and her husband died last year.

“Personally, I do not care about the monetary compensation,” the 71-year-old told the media.

“What I want is that Malaysia Airlines gives me the truth. What happened to our loved ones?

“What I want now is for them to resume the search and the investigation.”

Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia’s transport ministry both declined to comment on the hearings.

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said on Monday that Beijing “attaches great importance to the follow-up work” into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and “hopes that all parties will continue to maintain close communication.”

‘Unbearable’

It is unclear what authority the Chinese court has to enforce the compensation claims against the defendants.

According to CCTV, each family sought civil compensation ranging from 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) to 80 million yuan ($11.2 million), as well as moral damages ranging from 30 million yuan ($4.2 million) to 40 million yuan ($5.6 million).

According to the broadcaster, the families of more than 110 other passengers have already struck a settlement with the defendants and collected between 2.5 million and 3 million yuan.

Despite the frigid conditions outside the court on Monday, family were eager to speak with journalists.

Jiang Hui, whose mother was on Flight 370, described the hearing’s start as “very comforting, and it is a turning point.”

“The survival of the relatives during these 10 years, the deterioration of their living conditions… This really makes us very sad. So I hope that the legal relief can be realised as soon as possible. It is not difficult,” he said.

“Ten years have really been unbearable for us,” added Jiang.

The hearing was not listed on the court’s public website, but Jiang wrote on social media this month the court hearings would continue until mid-December.

Unsolved mystery

In 2018, a private search for MH370 was begun by a US exploration firm, but it was called off after many months of probing the seabed with no success.

The plane’s disappearance has long been the subject of a slew of stories, ranging from plausible to ridiculous, including that veteran pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone rogue.

Malaysian officials discovered in 2016 that the pilot had mapped a path across the Indian Ocean using a home flight simulator, but that this did not indicate he intentionally crashed the plane.

A final assessment on the disaster, released in 2018, pointed to air traffic control failures and stated that the plane’s trajectory was modified manually.

But they failed to come up with any firm conclusions, leaving relatives angry and disappointed.

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