China shuts embassies after protests by MH370 relatives

BEIJING (TIP): In a rare move, China has shut down a diplomatic district here housing the Indian and American embassies as angry relatives of passengers of the crashed Malaysian jet held overnight protests over the so far futile search to locate the plane.

With no breakthrough despite the high profile multi-nation search operation nearly 50 days after Flight MH370 went missing, relatives of the 153 Chinese passengers had a stormy meeting with Malaysia Airlines staff yesterday after which they tried to protest in front of the Malaysian embassy located opposite the Indian mission here.

Police stepped up security since yesterday evening and sealed off the area today throwing the traffic in the busy area out of gear. Many relatives reportedly rushed to the Malaysian embassy last night. Wen Wancheng, whose son was on the flight said she had spent the entire night outside the embassy along with dozens of other protesters. This is the second time since the plane went missing, that the Chinese relatives demonstrated in front of the embassy demanding Malaysian officials come out with the truth about the lost plane.

Earlier, relatives had lashed out over the “abrupt” announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rajak stating the plane “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean where weeks of search on the surface and beneath the sea yielded no results. Mystery continues to shroud the plane which went missing along with 239 passengers and crew on board, including five Indians, on March 8 while flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

This time the protesters said they were angry over the failure of Malaysian officials to be present at the briefing by the airline yesterday as promised before. It is rare for such protests to be permitted by the Chinese authorities. The protests this time took place before the weekend visit of US President Barack Obama to Kuala Lumpur, which is the first by an American President. Malaysia is one of the Asean countries that are locked in maritime disputes with China over the South China Sea islands. The others include the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

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