Malaysia Airlines is facing many mysteries and one of those mysteries is the fact that some of the passengers’ and crew members' cell phones are still ringing. “This could be a clue and shouldn’t be ignored,” said a man from Beijing surnamed Chen, whose cousin was on board Flight MH370, reported the MalayMailOnline on March 11, 2014.
On Sunday, more than a hundred family members of Flight MH370 passengers gathered in a Beijing hotel waiting for Chinese officials to provide answers about their loved ones. But when commercial director Hugh Dunleavy spoke in the afternoon, he had nothing.
“Stop hiding the truth from us!" shouted some of the people waiting anxiously to get some information, any information.
"They are not updating us that it is a possible hijacking," said a white-haired man who gave his name as Mr Li. His daughter was on board. "This means a greater chance that they are alive.
The situation for family members in Beijing is dire. The small holding room where families were waiting anxiously from 9 a.m. until dinner time for news were causing claustrophobia, there were insufficient chairs for everyone to sit, and the so-called Malaysia Airlines “special assistance” team spoke no Mandarin and only basic English.
After waiting for hours in an overcrowded room, Malaysia Airlines and Chinese officials left the family members with either no information or conflicting information in regard to when family members could fly to Kuala Lumpur. Visa processing procedures, limit on how many family members could go, and when exactly flights would be available left many angry.
One source of anger comes from the inability of anyone to be able to explain why the passengers’ cell phones are still ringing.
“Several family members told Mr Dunleavy that passengers' mobile phones were ringing, although no one picked up. The connection should be used to get the Global Positioning System coordinates of the phones' locations, they said. Mr Dunleavy said MAS was also trying the mobile phones of the crew members, and that they also rang. But it could not do more, he said, and had given the numbers to the Chinese authorities.”
According to a Washington Post report, a few relatives said they were able to call the cell phones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that the passengers’ cellphones were still somehow online.
Since the disappearance of Flight MH370, family members have continued to call the passengers’ cell phones and have received a ring. But instead of receiving any explanation or answer from any officials, the desperate family members are being ignored.
According to an NBC News report, “19 families signed a statement saying that dialing their loved ones' phones leads to a ring, rather than going straight to voicemail, as one would expect of a phone in airplane mode or otherwise unable to be reached.”
While NBC’s report explains that the ringing might occur while the network is searching for the phone and only terminates when no one answers, that explanation has not been sufficiently provided to the family members of Flight MH370 in Beijing. Or is it that Chinese officials do not want to provide an answer?
One man in Beijing said that he asked two policemen to come to his home on Sunday to witness that the QQ account of his loved one was still active. “But sometime Monday afternoon, when he wasn’t paying attention, it had suddenly switched off.”
“Like so many involved, he was now left with even more questions left unanswered. Did the phone’s battery run out? Had sea water damaged it? Was it just a random anomaly of some Internet server? Or was the plane hijacked and still out there somewhere?”
In contrast to the experience of the family members, Malaysia Airlines writes in its March 11, 2014, update that “we regret and empathise with the families and we will do whatever we can to ensure that all basic needs, comfort, psychological support are delivered. We are as anxious as the families to know the status of their loved ones … Malaysia Airlines reiterates that it will continue to be transparent in communicating with the general public via the media on all matters affecting MH370.” But why are family members not receiving any “transparent” explanation about the ringing cell phones? Is China hiding the truth from them?