March 25, 2014 00:00 By Wang Wen, Hou Li Qiang and Hu
The Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing became a place of great sadness on Monday night when the families of MH370 passengers were told about the crash. Medical staff rushed stretchers into the hotel to carry heartbroken family members.
Before the news briefing by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at 10pm on Monday, passengers' families received a message from Malaysia Airlines: "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. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia's Prime Minister, we must now accept that all evidence suggests the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean".
The Metropark Lido Hotel, where most passengers' families have been staying, was stiflingly hot when police, medical staff and reporters rushed to the site. Some families didn't believe the Malaysian prime minister. There were so many emotions, and one man kept shouting "liar, liar!" at Malaysia Airlines, protesting what he called the "futile efforts" made by Malaysia during the past two weeks.
Victims' families were reluctant to accept the news that flight MH370 had crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, while shouts and sobs filled the hotel in Beijing. Many families still didn't believe it was true.
One woman fell to the ground when deprived of the last hope that her sister would return home. She was carried to an emergency room, followed by China Daily reporter Wang Wen, who could only listen quietly and withhold any questions to avoid compounding the woman's grief. She said her lost sister was on flight MH370 with her daughter. "We met during the Spring Festival, and it became our last meeting," she whispered.
At 10pm sharp, the families were quiet, but in just one minute they burst into tears and sobbed.
Several men shouted, "The Malaysian government, return my beloved ones!" and began throwing chairs at the screen on which the families officially received news of the crash.
The families lost control while at least 30 police officers rushed to restore order. Waiters hurried to pick up the chairs and clean debris from the screen. At least two men were so angry that they began to pound the wall with their fists and could not be stopped by their friends.
Some family members said they wanted to petition the Malaysian ambassador to China for an explanation, and abruptly at least 10 family members fought with the police. One of the family members was injured in the scuffle and had to be carried out. Women sat in corners and sobbed for about 30 minutes, with doctors rushing to help. Most of the family members left the news conference room by 11pm.