As relatives of the 154 Chinese nationals on board Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 voice frustration
China on Wednesday asked the Malaysian government to "speed up" the search mission and "coordinate" international operations under way to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, as efforts to trace the aircraft continued for a fifth day amid confusion over its last location.
In China, relatives of the passengers - on board Flight 370 were 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians and travellers from the United States, France and half a dozen other countries - and State-run media outlets have expressed frustration and anger at the failure to trace the aircraft, with criticism aimed at Malaysian authorities for what they have described as a lack of clarity about on-going efforts and the release of contradictory information.
The Global Times, a Party-run newspaper, on Wednesday said there was "confusion" about the missing aircraft, adding that it was impossible to know, assessing the information put out by Malaysian authorities, "what was true and what was false".
The newspaper also accused the Malaysian military of withholding information, amid confusion over recent statements about the aircraft's last known location.
Malaysia's air force chief Rodzali Daud on Wednesday denied saying that military radar had tracked the flight more than one hour after its last contact with civilian air traffic control over the Gulf of Thailand, northeast of Malaysia.
Military officials had said a day earlier the aircraft had been tracked far west of its last point of contact, over the Straits of Malacca. Search operations were markedly widened on Tuesday and Wednesday, extending beyond the initial focus over the Gulf of Thailand to the Malacca Straits and further west to the Andaman Sea.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson , Qin Gang, on Wednesday said the government urged Malaysia to "speed up" the search, as the relatives of the 154 Chinese nationals on board voiced increasing frustration with the rescue efforts. More than 115 Chinese family members, as well as at least three relatives of the five Indians on board, have travelled to Kuala Lumpur as they wait for news of their loved ones.
Mr. Qin also "urged Malaysia to coordinate the international rescue efforts", the official Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying, and said Malaysia "should take primary responsibility in handling the aftermath and investigation as the missing flight was operated by Malaysia Airlines".
"We hope to enhance communication with Malaysia and strengthen coordination with search and rescue ships of other countries," he said.
More than 10 countries have now dispatched ships or planes to assist in rescue efforts, with India and Japan on Wednesday becoming the latest countries to pledge their support.
Japan said it would send four military planes to Malaysia. Its gesture brought an expression of thanks from China, in a rare voicing of goodwill between the two countries amid increasing strains in ties over disputed East China Sea islands.
"In the face of such an incident, the international community, whether Malaysia, China or neighbouring countries, have a shared concern," Mr Qin said. "If other countries can and are willing to send ships to participate in search work, we welcome it and express our thanks."