KUALA LUMPUR: China demanded Tuesday that Malaysia turn over the satellite data used to conclude that a Malaysia Airlines jetliner had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 on board. Officials sharply narrowed the search area as a result of that assessment, but the zone remains as large as Texas and Oklahoma combined.
Australia said improved weather would allow the hunt for the plane to resume Wednesday after gale-force winds and heavy rain forced a daylong delay. Searchers face a daunting task of combing a vast expanse of choppy seas for suspected remnants of the aircraft sighted earlier.
“We’re not searching for a needle in a haystack — we’re still trying to define where the haystack is,” Australia’s deputy defense chief, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, told reporters at a military base in Perth as idled planes stood behind him.
Late Monday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that a new analysis of satellite data confirmed the plane had crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.
That announcement unleashed a storm of sorrow and anger among the families of the plane’s passengers and crew — two-thirds of them Chinese. Family members of the passengers have complained bitterly about a lack of reliable information and some say they are not being told the whole truth.
Nearly 100 relatives and their supporters marched Tuesday to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, where they threw plastic water bottles, tried to rush the gate and chanted, “Liars!“
Many wore white T-shirts that read “Let’s pray for MH370” as they held banners and shouted, “Tell the truth! Return our relatives!“
There was a heavy police presence at the embassy. Police briefly scuffled with a group of relatives who tried to approach journalists.
In a clear statement of support for the families, Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special envoy to Kuala Lumpur to deal with the case.