As search operations for debris on Tuesday remained hampered by adverse weather, several dozen relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight demanded answers from the Malaysian government and staged a protest in front of the country's embassy in Beijing.
Relatives expressed anger at what they have described as a lack of transparency from the authorities, a day after the Malaysian Prime Minister broke the news that the missing Boeing 777 had ended its flight in the remote waters of the southern Indian Ocean, with all 239 people on board feared dead.
Malaysian officials said on Tuesday they were concentrating search efforts for debris in a 469,407 square nautical mile area in the southern Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia, based on satellite data, although adverse weather limited search operations for much of the day. Search efforts elsewhere have been abandoned.
"It has been 18 days and we still have no clear answers, no evidence," one relative, whose son was on board the ill-fated flight, told reporters as she marched towards the Malaysian Embassy in the heart of Beijing.
She was among around 30 family members who marched in a silent protest amid heavy police presence, and chanted slogans saying they had been "cheated" by the Malaysian government and demanding the truth. The entire neighbourhood around the Malaysian Embassy, which sits opposite the Indian Embassy here, had been blocked off.
There was considerable anger among the relatives, who had been left in despair by Monday's announcement. That the news was broken to some in a text message sent in English - a language that many did not
understand - was only seen as the culmination of a frustrating two weeks during which the airline's handling of the tragedy had left many relatives aggrieved.
Families here released a statement alleging that Malaysia had "deliberately delayed publicising real information". "We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three," it added, referring to the airline, Malaysian government and military. Of the 239 people on board were 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians and five Indians.
On Tuesday, despair turned to anger. Relatives, marching amid heavy police presence, threw water bottles at the Malaysian Embassy, and some even tried to climb over the barricades to enter the building as they demanded a meeting with the Ambassador.
In a country where street protests are rarely tolerated, Tuesday's march appeared to take place with the blessing of the Chinese government, with plainclothes police accompanying relatives.
While tolerating the outpouring of anger aimed at Malaysia, the Chinese government has itself been careful to underline the efforts it was taking to assuage the concern of family members. The government
said it had demanded all satellite data and analysis from the Malaysian authorities to verify how they had established the aircraft's location in the remote waters of the Indian Ocean, while President Xi Jinping dispatched Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui to Malaysia "to properly handle all related issues".