Passenger Smart Phones Still Active? Vanished Malaysia Airlines Flight Leaves Relatives with Anger, and Phantom Phone Calls
Posted: March 11, 2014 Filed under: Asia, Global, Mediasphere | Tags: Andaman Sea, Beijing, China, Chinese government, Liu, Malaysia Airline, Monday, Washington Post
Malaysia Airlines flight vanishes over South China Sea: Vietnamese air force jets reportedly spot two large oil slicks thought to be the airliner that disappeared with 239 on board, including three Americans.
BEIJING — For The Washington Post, William Wan and Liu Liu report: For three days, relatives awaiting word on the vanished Malaysia Airlines jet have endured a cruel roller coaster of emotions.
“One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones…”
First came the shock. Then, with each development that has emerged, they have careened between hope and despair. But by Monday, the predominant emotion was anger.
“…or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.”
The Malaysian government announced that it has now expanded the search west into the Andaman Sea, far from the plane’s intended northeasterly flight path towards China
Gathered at a hotel in northeast Beijing, many still resented Malaysia Airlines for having sent no one to explain anything during the first 15 hours after the plane’s disappearance. They blamed the Chinese government for not even meeting with them until Monday, three days into the crisis.
More than 100 of them signed a petition demanding answers and government assistance. Representatives selected from the families brought their protests to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing.
And Monday afternoon, when Malaysia Airlines officials returned for yet another briefing with little more to offer, some relatives threw water bottles at them in frustration. The question-and-answer session Monday eventually devolved into crying and shouted demands:
“All you have to say is empty talk!”
“Why have you waited until now to show up?”
A vice director from China’s civil aviation air safety center tried to assuage the crowd.
“I am the same as everyone in that I haven’t slept for two days,” the official said. “We are still searching. There is no evidence to show the plane has had an accident.”
Another official reassured the families that they had read their petition. “Your concern is our concern.”
Beginning Saturday night, the families were kept in a conference area of the Lido Hotel in Beijing, sectioned off from a media scrum outside, where officials could address them out of journalists’ earshot.
Over the weekend, Malaysia Airlines had sent professionals to counsel and support the families.
The Chinese government, apparently anticipating anger, had also sent police and hotel staff to keep order.
On Sunday at 3 a.m., before Malaysia Airlines officials had their first meeting with the families, police entered first and tried to calm them down. Police also removed the chairs for fear that they might be thrown at the officials. But the move backfired, sparking anger over elderly relatives who were forced to stand.
When officials finally addressed the crowd, they had almost no details to offer.
“If you can’t tell us anything, what are you doing here!” shouted some.
In the absence of information, the hotel became a place of rampant rumor.
There were conspiracy theories and morbid calculation of survival odds, which grew ever darker as the days dragged on.
One of the most eerie rumors came after a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online.
A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon.
Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers’ numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up….Read the rest >>>
The Washington Post