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Malaysia Airlines defend decision to notify families via text message

BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: Chinese relatives of the flight MH370 walk towards the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. Hundreds of protesters, including many relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers, marched.
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: Chinese relatives of the flight MH370 walk towards the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. Hundreds of protesters, including many relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers, marched.
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Malaysia Airlines officials defended their decision to notify families of missing passengers of Flight 370's presumed fate via text message on Tuesday.

Malaysian Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said that the company's "sole motivation" was to ensure "the families heard the tragic news before the world did."

"My heart breaks to think of the unimaginable pain suffered by all the families," Yahya told reporters during a press conference. "There are no words which can ease that pain."

In a statement posted on the airline website, Malaysia Airlines said it offers its "sincere thoughts, prayers and condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy."

Meanwhile, nearly 100 Chinese family members marched in protest at the Malaysian Embassy, chanting “Liars! Tell the truth! Return our relatives!” Journalists report a heavy police presence around the area.

China’s President Xi Jinping ordered a special envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, to investigate the case. China’s Deputy Foreign Minister told Malaysia’s ambassador that China wanted to know exactly what led to Razak’s announcement that the plane had been lost.

Razak’s announcement sparked chaos among many of the families, including a Beijing hotel where many mourning relatives gathered.

Officials representing Malaysia Airlines said families have received $5000 in compensation. Additional payments may be forthcoming, according to the airlines.