PERTH, Australia — As a robotic submarine dived into the ocean to look for lost Flight 370, angry Chinese relatives stormed out of a teleconference meeting today to protest the Malaysian government for not addressing them in person.
The Bluefin 21 sub surfaced early for the second time in as many missions, this time after experiencing technical difficulties. It was sent back into the water after its data were downloaded but there’s been no sign of the plane, according to the search coordinator.
As the search continued, more than 100 relatives of Chinese passengers on the plane walked out of a teleconference meeting with senior Malaysian officials, an act of defiance over a lack of contact with that country’s government and for taking so long to respond to their demands.
The family members had gathered in a meeting room at a Beijing hotel where Malaysia Airlines had provided lodging and food. But they stood and filed out shortly before the call with Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, and others as it was about to start.
“These video conference meetings often don’t work, the sound stops and it’s constantly disrupted. Is that how we are going to communicate?” said Jiang Hui, one of the family members, after the walkout. “Do they need to waste our time in such a way?”
Jiang said the Malaysian government had not met demands the relatives had presented to them weeks ago in Malaysia — an apology for the way they’ve handled the matter along with meetings with the Malaysian government and airline officials. They also have requested to sit down with executives from Boeing and Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer of the plane and its engines.
The Boeing 777 vanished March 8 with 239 people on board while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing. Radar and satellite data show it flew far off-course for an unknown reason and would have run out of fuel over the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia.
A ship-towed device detected four signals underwater that are believed to have come from the airliner’s black boxes shortly before the beacons’ batteries died. The sounds helped narrow the search area to the waters where the Bluefin 21 is now operating.