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26 February 2024

Chinese MH370 relatives ask to meet Malaysia PM

Relatives of passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk out after delivering a letter to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing. (AFP)


Chinese relatives of those who disappeared on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Thursday asked to meet the country's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad when he visits China this week.

The plane disappeared in March 2014 with 239 people - mostly from China - on board, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Amid a heavy police presence, about a dozen relatives gathered outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing where they handed over a letter addressed to the Malaysian government.

"We ask that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir, or other representatives (of the Malaysian government) meet with Chinese relatives of those on board MH370 during the official visit," the letter read.

Mahathir, who became Malaysia's premier for a second time after a shock election victory in May, will arrive in China Friday for a five-day visit, including a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday.

Other requests include resuming the search, a monthly meeting with airline and Malaysian officials, as well as for investigators to thoroughly explain the recent investigation report.

A similar letter was also given to the foreign ministry.

"We're holding out hope that on this visit to China, (Mahathir) can quickly resolve the issue with MH370," said Gu Xiu Fang, whose son and his family were on the plane.

"We don't know anything about the situation. Our lives have stopped at March 8, 2014," she said.

Relatives had earlier this month expressed frustration that the long-awaited official report - totalling some 1,500 pages - had no new clues about the missing airliner and had not been translated into Chinese.

The investigation team wrote that it was unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance of the plane.

The vanished airliner sparked the largest hunt in aviation history but no sign of the jet was found in a 120,000-square kilometre (46,000-square mile) Indian Ocean search zone and the Australian-led hunt was suspended in January 2017.

US exploration firm Ocean Infinity resumed the search in a different location at the start of this year on a "no find, no fee" basis, using high-tech drones to scour the seabed.

The private search was called off after failing to find a trace of the plane but Mahathir had said the search could resume if new evidence shows up.

Only three confirmed fragments of MH370 have been found, all of them washed up on shores in the western Indian Ocean.