BEIJING – China demanded Tuesday that Malaysia turn over satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was lost in the southern Indian Ocean with no survivors during a flight to Beijing.
Among the flight's 239 passengers, 153 were Chinese nationals, making the incident a highly emotional one for Beijing. Family members of the missing passengers have complained bitterly about a lack of reliable information and some suspect they are not being told the whole truth.
Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's ambassador to Beijing that China wanted to know what exactly led Malaysia to announce Monday night that the plane had been lost, China's Foreign Ministry said on its web site.
"We demand the Malaysian side to make clear the specific basis on which they come to this judgment," Xie was quoted as telling Datuk Iskandar Bin Sarudin during their meeting late Monday.
There was no immediate response from the Malaysian side.
Monday's announcement sparked mournful, angry and chaotic scenes at the Beijing hotel where relatives had gathered.
Around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning (1800 GMT Monday) a group of family members read out a statement condemning Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government and military and vowing to hold them responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
The plane vanished less than an hour into an overnight flight March 8 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Relatives planned to stage a further protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing.