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Relatives sob after announcement on missing plane

BEIJING (AP) -- Relatives shrieked and sobbed uncontrollably. Men and women nearly collapsed, held up by loved ones. Their grief came pouring out after 17 days of waiting for definitive word on the fate of the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

Malaysia's prime minister gave that word late Monday in an announcement from Kuala Lumpur, saying there was no longer any doubt that Flight 370 went down in the southern Indian Ocean.

Relatives of passengers in Beijing had been called to a hotel near the airport to hear the news, and some 50 of them gathered there. Afterward, they filed out of a conference room in heart-wrenching grief.

One woman collapsed and fell on her knees, crying "My son! My son!"

Medical teams arrived at the Lido hotel with several stretchers and one elderly man was carried out of the conference room on one of them, his face covered by a jacket. Minutes later, a middle-aged woman was taken out on another stretcher, her face ashen and her blank eyes seemingly staring off into the distance.

Most of the relatives refused to speak to gathered reporters and some lashed out in anger, urging journalists not to film the scene. Security guards restrained a man with close-cropped hair as he kicked a TV cameraman and shouted, "Don't film. I'll beat you to death!"

Some relatives staying at hotels in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur were notified in person of the imminent late-night news conference by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and some heard over the phone.

Some received a heads-up by text message, said Sarah Bajc, who has been awaiting news of the fate of her boyfriend, Philip Wood, ever since the plane disappeared March 8 on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived," the text message said. "As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."

Bajc noted in an email that the prime minister's announcement made no mention of confirmed wreckage, "so no real closure," but she also said the time for grief had begun.

"I need closure to be certain but cannot keep on with public efforts against all odds. I STILL feel his presence, so perhaps it was his soul all along," she wrote. "It looks like the first phase of our mission has ended. Now Philip's family and I will need some time for private grief."

Wang Zhen, whose father and mother, Wang Linshi and Xiong Yunming, were aboard the flight as part of a group of Chinese artists touring Malaysia, said he heard the announcement on television in the hotel where he has been staying.

"My mind is a mess right now. Can we talk later?" he said by telephone.

Nan Jinyan, whose brother-in-law Yan Ling, a medical company engineer, was aboard the flight on a business trip, said she was prepared for the worst when she heard the Malaysian prime minister would make a statement.

"This is a blow to us, and it is beyond description," Nan said.

At the Lido hotel, where many of the Chinese relatives have complained about what they have described as incomplete or contradictory information provided by the airline and Malaysian authorities, two distraught women and a man came to address journalists nearly two hours after the announcement.

"I tell you, this was the wrong way to release this information," one of the women said between sobs, speaking over the bellows of security guards trying to hold back the crush. "It's all so black," she said, using the Chinese expression for opacity and deceit.

In Kuala Lumpur, screaming could be heard from inside the Hotel Bangi Putrajaya, where some of the families of passengers have been given rooms.

Selamat Omar, father of a 29-year-old aviation engineer aboard the flight, said in a telephone interview that Malaysia Airlines had not yet briefed the families on whether they will be taken to Australia, closer to where the plane is believed to have gone down. He said they expected more details Tuesday.

"We accept the news of the tragedy. It is fate," Selamat said.


Associated Press writers Didi Tang and Ian Mader in Beijing, and Todd Pitman and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.

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b19821 March 25 2014 at 11:14 AM

Financial info for those lost in the accident. I just read that "Commercial Airlines must carry $1.5 billion in liability insurance. Which is enough to pay each persons family normally $5 millon". I have also read prior to this that they are required to pay out $175,000 per person lost and you can sue for more in court. Just thought I would post this for anyone who wondered. This one, without and real proof it went down, I don't know how it will do in court. They may have to wait a period of time, like 2 years, before the insurance company will pay out. An aviation attorney would be able to be more accurate. Anyway, this is just an F.Y.I., I am sure it is not at the top of the family's list right now. I still have a hard time that with no proof (REALLY), that this is what they "CONCLUDE".

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Owen March 25 2014 at 7:06 AM

my condolances to the families

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thomas stephen March 25 2014 at 6:54 AM

A tragedy for all, and sadness for the world, Upon taking a flight, safety is expected and security is required, obviously, something went very wrong in this case. The truth, which is so difficult to find these days, will come out, at present, prayers and sympathy should be offered to the innocents, both deceased and loved ones who are enduring grief.

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seattle333 March 24 2014 at 7:54 PM

The government should of shielded the families from the BLOOD ******* PRESS. No words can describe how much I detested the photographers and all their flashing cameras mirrored on the anguished families faces after they were officially informed. Why weren't they banned till the families could process all this grave information???? Somebody dropped the ball in spite of having two weeks to make these plans. IDIOTS!!!!!!!!

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Hello "Nancy" March 24 2014 at 5:34 PM

I can't even imagine what they are going through, it's a drastic loss to all and why and how it happened.

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LQ March 24 2014 at 4:48 PM

I just want to extend my prayers to all of the families, people all grieve differently whether they knew their family member may not becoming coming home doesn't really matter, sometimes HOPE is needed to keep that family member going.

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Caroline March 24 2014 at 3:47 PM

My heart goes out to these people. And remember, because of the Chinese one- child policy, policy the country 'averted 200 million births between 1979 and 2009.' (Some families are now allowed to have only two.) To many, this was their only child... so, so tragic.

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1 reply
SumBreezeHuh Caroline March 24 2014 at 4:32 PM

That is sad. You can have more than one child, but you pay a hefty tax or something in return. So the wealthy can have more, basically.

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eriemoon21 March 24 2014 at 3:46 PM

awwww so very sad. My heart goes out to all of you that had loved ones on the plane, very very sad :(

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BitchyFace March 24 2014 at 4:42 PM

I still cannot convince myself that that plane has gone down. They still seem to not have any valid evidence. I just have this gut feeling and I cannot explain it but....................

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1 reply
GCooper402 BitchyFace March 25 2014 at 7:55 AM

like Ive been saying they told the famalies that garbage to get them off their backs they will look like fools when they find that plane being held someqhere or crashed on land

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cpma March 24 2014 at 4:40 PM

So for two weeks this plane is lost .... no announcements whatsoever.... now no wreckage has been recovered but satellite photos see "something" but have no confirmation and an announcement is now made that the plane crashed into the sea?

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