Relatives of Chinese passengers who lost their lives nearly a decade ago when a Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared are urging for a new inquiry. On Monday, a Beijing court commenced hearing their renewed plea for compensation in the MH370 case. The flight vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, predominantly from China, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Over 40 families have filed lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines, Boeing (the aircraft manufacturer), Rolls Royce (the engine maker), and the Allianz insurance group, as reported by state broadcaster CCTV. The litigations focus on seeking compensation and uncovering the truth behind the aircraft’s mysterious disappearance, according to Zhang Qihuai, a lawyer quoted by CCTV.
Despite an extensive search in a 120,000-square-kilometer (46,000-square-mile) Indian Ocean zone, the Australian-led operation, the largest in aviation history, was halted in January 2017. Very few traces of the plane were found, with only some debris recovered.
The families released an open letter to Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, advocating for a new search under a “No find, No fee” arrangement. The letter expressed the families’ willingness to invest their own funds or collaborate with capable individuals and companies, emphasizing the need for effective communication with the Malaysian government to initiate a renewed investigation.
Outside the court, emotional relatives shared stories of their loved ones, with some holding signs that read “restart the search” and “open, fair, impartial.” Bao Lanfang, who lost several family members in the tragedy, stated that her primary concern is not monetary compensation but the truth about what happened to their loved ones. She urged Malaysia Airlines to resume the search and investigation.
While the Chinese court’s jurisdiction to enforce compensation claims against the defendants remains uncertain, each family has filed for civil compensation ranging from 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) to 80 million yuan ($11.2 million), along with moral damages of 30 million yuan ($4.2 million) to 40 million yuan ($5.6 million), as per CCTV.
Despite the freezing temperatures, relatives gathered outside the court on Monday to share their stories. Jiang Hui, whose mother was on flight MH370, expressed relief at the opening of the hearing, calling it a turning point and emphasizing the importance of legal relief for the families. Jiang highlighted the unbearable nature of the past ten years for the families of the victims.
The hearing, not listed on the court’s public website, is expected to continue until mid-December, as mentioned by Jiang on social media. The unsolved mystery of MH370 has given rise to various theories, with the latest developments focusing on legal efforts to bring closure to the grieving families.