KUALA LUMPER/BEIJING (DPA) – Malaysia Airlines will meet Chinese relatives of those missing on board its flight MH370, the company said Thursday in Beijing.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier that the airline owed the families an explanation of how wreckage found off eastern Africa last week was assessed to be from the missing plane.
US State Secretary John Kerry expressed his condolences. "All the wounds have been opened again" following the discovery of a wing part on Reunion Island thought to be from the missing plane, he said.
"We hope very much that the debris that was discovered on Reunion Island, if it is found to be conclusively part of the aircraft, that this will help to bring some sense of closure about what happened," he said in Kuala Lumpur after attending the meetings of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.
In Paris late Wednesday, French prosecutor Serge Mackowiak spoke of a "very strong supposition" that the part found on the French-administrated island was from the Boeing 777 used for flight MH370.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak went further and told media in Kuala Lumpur that experts "conclusively confirmed" that the wreckage was from MH370.
Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said Najib's statement was based on a match found between a maintenance seal on the flaperon and the records of MH370, citing experts from the airline and Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation.
Liow also told reporters that more suspected debris including a door of the plane was found on the island by a Malaysian investigating team and was turned over to authorities for verification.
But a spokeswoman for the French prosecutor told dpa that her office "denies for now that any new debris has been found."
In Beijing, the airline told the Chinese relatives by text message it would meet them Friday morning to address and clarify communications, and that it was setting up two hotlines.
The relatives of the 153 Chinese citizens on board the plane have complained of being left uninformed in the wake of its disappearance.
Around a dozen of them demonstrated outside a Malaysia Airlines ticket office in Beijing Thursday, saying Malaysia was overly hasty to confirm the plane went down at sea in order to close the matter.
"We were offered compensation months ago: 50,000 dollars if we acknowledged the death of our family members," Zhang Yonghui, holding two small Chinese national flags, told dpa. The 64-year-old lost his 32-year-old daughter in the accident.
"But we do not want money, we want to be informed," he said.
Malaysian relatives of passengers expressed grief and disbelief at the announcements appear to confirm that the plane was lost at sea, and called for the search not to be abandoned.
China's Minister Wang, speaking on the sidelines of the annual foreign ministers' meetings of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, also said the search for the wreck "must be continued."
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed efforts would not stop until the plane's disappearance was solved. Australia leads the team that has been searching the southern Indian Ocean.
"We owe it to the families of the people lost on that plane to try to solve the mystery. We owe it to the travelling public, who obviously want to be confident of their safety in the air," Abbott told a local radio station, The Australian newspaper reported.
The discovery of the debris off eastern Africa "does seem to confirm that [MH370] went down in the Indian Ocean," most probably within the designated search area, Abbott said.
The Beijing-bound MH370, with 239 people aboard, disappeared about an hour after it left Kuala Lumpur.
For comments, or corrections to this article please contact: [email protected]