Chaos erupted at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur as police dragged distressed Chinese family members of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 away from reporters.
Just before the nightly press conference on the missing plane was due to start, family members arrived to talk to media at the Sama Sama Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
They said they had been given little information on the progress of the search for the missing plane after being brought to Malaysia. They urged the Malaysian government to tell them more about the fate of the plane and the 239 people on board. Two New Zealanders are among the missing passengers and crew.
Flight MH370 has been missing since it disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of March 8, shortly after take-off.
An official announced over a microphone that the room was only for the Department of Civil Aviation’s press conferences, and security personnel arrived to forcibly remove the relatives.
A Chinese woman was dragged from the room by officials after she collapsed on the floor crying and pleading for help for her son, a passenger on MH370.
"I want you to help me find my son, I've been here for ten days," the woman said, according to a Chinese-speaking reporter at the hotel. The woman and another relative were dragged into the media secretariat office in an adjacent room, which was off-limits to media personnel, and remained there for about an hour.
After the press conference began, they were moved to another room in the hotel, and a cordon was set up preventing media access.
Of the 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight, 152 were Chinese nationals.
Yesterday, relatives of passengers in Beijing threatened to go on hunger strike in protest at the lack of information they had received from the Malaysian government.
Malaysia Airlines said staff had been assigned to each family in Malaysia and China to provide updates on the progress of the search.
At the media briefing, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he understood what the families were going through.
"One of our main priorities is how to handle the emotions of the families.
"I hope and appeal to everybody, that we are trying our very best. This is also heart-wrenching for me," he said.