The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Chinese MH370 families skeptical of new find; believe passengers ‘still out there’

BEIJING — For more than a year, the Chinese relatives of those who disappeared aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 have waited, and waited, for word of what happened to their loved ones.

And yet the discovery Wednesday of a potential clue — a piece of an airplane wing that washed up on an island the Indian Ocean — brought them little relief.

[Debris found in Indian Ocean appears similar to missing MH370 plane]

On Thursday, several families said they still believe, against the odds, that the missing passengers are out there, or that this is another false alarm. To believe otherwise is to accept the worst.

They called on the Chinese news media to stop printing “hearsay,” and said they were not ready to accept that the wreckage found on Reunion may be a piece of the missing plane.

The group later issued a statement saying they were tired of hearing from officials with “99 percent confidence.”

“We want 100 percent confidence,” they wrote.

“This should not affect the promise made by all parties to never stop or give up the search for the plane,” the statement said.

The family and friends of the Chinese passengers who went missing on MH370 have reason to be skeptical.

They have spent the last year locked in Kafkaesque nightmare: cloistered in a hotel for weeks waiting for news, told not to talk to the media, fed false information, and when they made too much noise, reportedly beaten by Chinese police.

Absent verifiable facts, the rumor mill went wild. Some still believe that the plane was intercepted, perhaps by Islamic extremists or the CIA, and that their relatives could alive, waiting to be rescued.

“I think the plane was hijacked, that this was a political incident,” said Zhang Yongli, whose daughter, Zhang Qi, is missing, in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

The disappearance of MH370 “really looks like a conspiracy,” said Jiang Hui, whose mother was on the plane.

“Why haven’t they shown us the boarding footage, why couldn’t they confirm if the plane landed somewhere else or not, what are they trying to hide?” Jiang asked.

Several said they will not believe the news until it has been confirmed by multiple sources, including the Chinese government, which has said little so far.

“This kind of news happens quite often,” said Steven Wang, whose mother is among the missing.

“It still needs to be verified and confirmed by not only one party … then I can be convinced.”

Until then, Wang said, he “still has a glimmer of hope.”

Police say it's too early to say if debris found in the Indian Ocean belonged to missing to the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. (Video: Reuters)

Xu Jing, Liu Liu and Xu Yanjingjing reported from Beijing.