Tears, screams, questions as relatives wait

Families' agonizing wait for news
Families' agonizing wait for news

    JUST WATCHED

    Families' agonizing wait for news

MUST WATCH

Families' agonizing wait for news 01:26

Story highlights

  • Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens early March 8
  • Of the 227 passengers on board the missing plane, 153 are from mainland China
  • Malaysia Airlines has established a support center for relatives at Beijing's Lido Hotel
  • There people exchange information and watch news coverage on the missing plane

As three Malaysia Airlines executives and their interpreter looked on with stoic faces, a Chinese man in his 50s yelled: "Time's flying and you need to search for the people!" before wailing uncontrollably.

The man's son was on Flight MH370 -- still missing after the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200 jet disappeared from radar screens early Saturday morning, not long after it took off from Kuala Lumpur's international airport.

As their agonizing wait enters day four, family and friends of the 227 passengers on board -- of whom 153 were from mainland China -- have become increasingly frustrated and angry, especially those who have been holed up in the Lido Hotel, a short drive from Beijing's Capital International Airport.

The bawling man broke down in the middle of a Malaysia Airlines briefing for the passengers' relatives. He demanded to know why he could hear his son's mobile phone ring when dialing the number, even as search and rescue crews continued to return empty handed.

Several other Chinese passengers' mobile phones were still connecting but going unanswered, state media has quoted their families as saying. Some experts have attributed this to the configuration of call-forwarding service by certain phone carriers, but their opinion has little sway on the crowd at Lido.

Four possible scenarios

Continuous coverage

Most relatives of passengers spend their waking hours in the hotel's ballroom, where Malaysia Airlines has established a support center. Journalists are not officially allowed to enter, but some manage to quietly walk in.

 Flight 370 victim family holds out hope
 Flight 370 victim family holds out hope

    JUST WATCHED

    Flight 370 victim family holds out hope

MUST WATCH

Flight 370 victim family holds out hope 05:05
Flight 370: Mystery passenger ID'd
Flight 370: Mystery passenger ID'd

    JUST WATCHED

    Flight 370: Mystery passenger ID'd

MUST WATCH

Flight 370: Mystery passenger ID'd 01:38
CEO of Malaysia Airlines speaks to CNN
CEO of Malaysia Airlines speaks to CNN

    JUST WATCHED

    CEO of Malaysia Airlines speaks to CNN

MUST WATCH

CEO of Malaysia Airlines speaks to CNN 00:53
Search underway for missing Flight 370
Search underway for missing Flight 370

    JUST WATCHED

    Search underway for missing Flight 370

MUST WATCH

Search underway for missing Flight 370 03:33

Different Chinese dialects resonate in the room as people exchange information and plans, with others glued to television screens broadcasting continuous coverage on the missing plane from local channels.

Food, snacks and bottled water are laid out on tables, as Buddhist volunteers from Taiwan hand out fruit, remind people to eat properly and offer warm hugs. Staff behind desks help those applying for Chinese passports and Malaysian visas, with an ID photo booth set up in the corner.

The seemingly calm air was punctuated by the cry of pain and desperation Tuesday afternoon. A woman suddenly screamed, prompting her family to rush to her side.

"You need to stay healthy -- it's no good if he comes back and sees you like this, right?" A young man comforted the woman, as her husband sobbed next to her.

"You're right," said the woman, wiping her tears and nodding.

Who were the mystery men on the flight?

'Sincere attitude'

The atmosphere in the room turned contentious as Malaysia Airlines representatives walked in for the briefing. The carrier's offer of $5,000 immediate financial assistance to each family member was met with boos in the audience.

Many in the crowd vented their dissatisfaction with the airline, calling its updates infrequent and its assistance inadequate. They voiced frustration of being kept in the dark and suspicion over the motive of the airline's money offer.

"I hope you treat us with a sincere attitude, otherwise there will be serious consequences!" declared a relative in a black shirt.

"Yes!" others shouted in unison.

The man in black then laid down five demands for the airline, including a 24/7 coordinator for passenger families, more flexibility on the relatives' travel to Kuala Lumpur and a meeting with Malaysian government officials.

"We're trying to deliver with limited resources," said Ignatius Ong, a senior executive with Malaysia Airlines, pledging a thorough review of the family demands. "My personal apologies to everyone here, but I ask you to support us."

"Please," he added.

      Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

    • nr intv moni basu husbands quiet suffering flight 370_00020822.jpg

      An empty space on earth

      His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
    • This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.

      Is this the sound of the crash?

      Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
    •  A crew member of a Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean on April 13, 2014 off the coast of Perth, Australia. S

      Search back to square one

      What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
    • Caption:A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 uses a lighter as she prays at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 8, 2014. The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris. AFP PHOTO/WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

      Bring in the lawyers

      Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
    • The painstaking search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 got a vote of confidence Friday that the effort is headed in the right direction, but officials noted that much work remains.
Credit: 	CNN

      Pings likely not from Flight 370

      Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
    • INDIAN OCEAN (April 14, 2014) -- Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14. Using side scan sonar, the Bluefin will descend to a depth of between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, approximately 35 meters above the ocean floor. It will spend up to 16 hours at this depth collecting data, before potentially moving to other likely search areas. Joint Task Force 658 is currently supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/RELEASED)

      Underwater search on hold

      The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
    • Movie-makers say they have recruited leading Hollywood technicians to bring their experience to mid-air flight sequences.

      An MH370 movie already?

      Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
    • The story of the search

      The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.