Almost a year after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean with 239 people on board, the families of victims are reluctant to accept compensation, fearing the search for the ill-fated plane may be called off.
Among them is Wang Rongxuan, a Chinese national who has been in Kuala Lumpur for more than two weeks to demand justice from the airline. She told The Anadolu Agency she was determined not to return without her 37-year-old son, Hou Bo.
The mother said that families from China – which had had 152 nationals on board the flight — would not accept Malaysia’s declaration of the MH370 case as an accident.
“We demand the search operations to not be scaled down,” she stressed. “I am very sure my son will come back. Before that, they should not stop the search.”
Grieving families have been expressing their concerns over a possible down-scaling of search efforts ever since late January, when Malaysia declared the flight lost in an accident, with all aboard presumed dead.
Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general, had said: “We have concluded that the aircraft exhausted its fuel over a defined area of the southern Indian Ocean and that the aircraft is located on the sea floor… survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely.”
He assured search operations would remain “a priority” for the countries involved, including Australia and China.
Following the announcement, the relatives of victims – some streaming in from China — have held protests outside the airline’s office in Kuala Lumpur.
A year of searching the Indian Ocean, where the Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed, has not resulted in any positive indication of what happened to the plane or those on board.
While questions regarding the whereabouts and fate of the flight remain unanswered, the incident has been surrounded by speculation and various conspiracy theories.
The mother of an engineer on board the plane, A. Amirtham, expressed to AA her belief that her son – Puspanathan — is still alive and living in a deserted area without access to communication.
Asked where that belief came from, the retired clinic worker said: “I dream of my son trying to talk to me. But the background was a desert with no people around him. But he did not manage to talk.”
Amirtham says she barely sleeps since March 8 last year, and lacks the appetite to eat.
“I have also fainted several times due to low [blood] pressure.”
Some relatives strongly voiced their opposition to receiving compensation, making demands about the handling of search operations.
Grace Subathirai, daughter of passenger Anne Katherine Daisy, said the future would never be the same, and called on Malaysia’s government to make public all investigation details – including the basis for their declaring the case an accident.
“Until then, we will not take any payments given on my mother’s name,” she told AA regarding the refusal of initial compensation from both Malaysia Airlines and the family’s insurance service providers. “Because once we receive, it is like agreeing to the conclusion.”
Ongoing search operations, which had included around 160 ships and aircraft with experts from 25 countries providing advice, are currently focused on the sea floor about 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) west of Perth.
According to the working theory undersea efforts are based on, the flight is believed to have flown south before crashing in a remote and stormy section of the Indian Ocean. The theory relies on calculations based on satellite data of transmissions with the plane.
The DCA’s Abdul Rahman told national news agency Bernama that the agency had investigated all theories and claims – however “ridiculous” — in cooperation with search teams and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
“We have a communication team which sits down day and night to discuss how to release a statement, in response to questions and the various theories or signs of the aircraft’s whereabouts,” he said Saturday.
“We need to be careful with the statement because every word would be misinterpreted… We always focus on what we do and do not run away from our responsibilities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has expressed that he is cautiously optimistic about locating the aircraft.
At a press briefing, he said operations in the southern Indian Ocean had covered around 26,000 square kilometers, or 44 percent of the designated area.
“We covered 1 precent of the search area a day, and this is a big achievement. We are confident of finding the plane in this particular area,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
The DCA is set to release an interim report Sunday on the one-year anniversary of the Beijing-bound flight disappearing from radars an hour after takeoff.