Malaysia releases new details of contact with missing jet

Improved weather conditions allows search for debris to resume

The son of passengers Rod and Mary Burrows from Brisbane, Australia said his parents had been on their way to Beijing to celebrate their retirement. Jayden Burrows said the family is trying to come to grips with the news. Video: Reuters

Tue, Mar 25, 2014, 19:26

Malaysian authorities released new details today of the last satellite communications by Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, even as furious family members and friends of the plane’s passengers broke through police lines in Beijing and marched to the Malaysian embassy.

Hishammuddin Hussein, the defence minister and acting transport minister, said the plane appeared to have sent a last, partial satellite signal eight minutes after a previously disclosed electronic “handshake” between the plane and a satellite at 8.11am on March 8th.

The incomplete signal represented a “partial handshake,” he said.

“At this time, this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work,” Mr Hishammuddin said.

The next signal from the aircraft was due at 9.15am but never came.

Mr Hishammuddin referred delicately to the likelihood that the cessation of signals came after the plane ran out of fuel, saying that the timing “is consistent with the maximum endurance of the aircraft”.

Today, relatives and friends of many of the 153 Chinese passengers on flight 370 gathered outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing to demand that Malaysian officials tell them the truth about the fate of the flight.

They went there despite assurances from the police that the Malaysian ambassador would come to their hotel to talk to them, an apparent effort to dissuade them from going to the embassy, according to people on the scene.

The group shoved past police officers as they left their hotel, arriving on foot at the embassy about 40 minutes later.

The street was crowded with journalists, police officers and people trying to get past police roadblocks to reach some of the other embassies on the block, including the US, Israeli and French embassies.

A line of paramilitary police officers then blocked the road and prevented journalists from following the marchers.

One diplomat came out to talk to the protesters, who presented the embassy with a scathing collective statement saying the families wanted answers and would consider Malaysian officials and the airline to be “murderers” if the families found that missteps had led to the deaths of their loved ones.

In the midafternoon, a man who said his surname was Wang spoke at the hotel where the families were staying, saying he represented them.

He said the Malaysian government had so far failed to provide any evidence for its conclusion that the plane had ended up crashing in the Indian Ocean, killing everyone on board.

He said most of the families did not believe the Malaysian government’s narrative about the loss of the plane.

“I just want the truth to come out with evidence,” Mr Wang said, adding that he believed hijackers who harbored ill will toward Malaysia had taken the plane.

After 3pm, the Malaysian ambassador to China arrived to talk privately to the relatives and friends gathered in the hotel’s ballroom.