Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Grieving families call airline heartless over hotel move

Rooms to be vacated for grand prix fans, splitting up support network.

A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 waits for a news briefing by the Airlines' officials. Photo / AP
A relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 waits for a news briefing by the Airlines' officials. Photo / AP

The families of passengers missing on Flight 370 for more than 11 days are being pushed out of their Kuala Lumpur hotel, as they wait for news of their loved ones.

Angry relatives labelled Malaysia Airlines "heartless" after being told their rooms at a 5-star resort hotel in Cyberjaya where they had been staying since last week were pre-booked for the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix from this weekend.


A young Malaysian boy prays at an event for the missing passengers. Photo / AP

It also emerged last night that a flight simulator taken from the home of one of the missing pilots held software for five practice runways scattered around the Indian Ocean - where the search is now focused.

About 15 relatives had taken up the offer by Malaysia Airlines to travel to Kuala Lumpur to wait for news on the missing flight, including three relatives of Auckland man Ximin Wang. Mr Wang's family have since returned to New Zealand.

The Herald understands that relatives are now deciding whether to go to relocated hotels yet to be booked by the carrier.

"It is hard enough waking up every day, and now they want to move us," said one woman. "They are really so heartless."

Read more of the Herald's Flight 370 coverage today:
Flight 370 hunt hampered by lack of cooperation
Theories abound as officials fail to find the answers
Q&A: Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Flight path programmed in

Hotel rooms are hard to come by in Kuala Lumpur due to the influx of international media covering the missing plane and people there for the race.

A support worker said it was tough for the families to be split up because they relied heavily on each other for support.

Auxiliary police and guards have been seconded to watch over the entrance of the hotel in a bid to block the media from accessing the relatives, but one woman spoke to the Herald briefly when she stepped outside the hotel.

Photos: The faces of flight 370

She felt like a prisoner, she said, and was being monitored all the time and being instructed not to speak to the media.

As suspicions harden that the plane was hijacked, investigators have been examining virtual flight paths used on a simulator built by Zaharie Ahmad Shah, one of the two pilots on board the flight.

Malaysian news outlet Berita Harian reported that software found included the Male International Airport in the Maldives, three airports in India and Sri Lanka, and one belonging to the United States military base in Diego Garcia. All have runways of 1000m.

At the weekend investigators confirmed that the Boeing 777 was deliberately diverted during its overnight flight.

They established the jet continued flying for six hours, but there has been no sign of it, its 227 passengers or 12 crew since.


At least 26 countries are now assisting in the ground, sea and aerial search for the plane. Photo / AP

The turn was programmed into the aircraft's computer navigation system, probably by someone in the cockpit, the New York Times reported last night.

Rather than manually operating the plane's controls, whoever altered the path typed seven or eight keystrokes into a computer situated between the captain and the co-pilot, according to officials.

The computer is called the Flight Management System.

It directs the plane from point to point specified in the flight plan submitted before a flight.

It is not clear whether the plane's path was reprogrammed before or after it took off, the Times said.

Hijacking, sabotage, or pilot suicide have not been ruled out.

Backgrounds of passengers and staff associated with the flight are being checked but the investigation is still heavily focused on pilots Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 57, and Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27.

Video: Satellite firm enlists help to find Jet

Neighbours of Captain Shah yesterday remained staunchly supportive and described him as jovial and generous.

One neighbour said he loved to cook.

"We all know he's really good at making rendang and other Malay dishes and would share it around," she said.

"None of us believe any of the reports that he's responsible for the plane's disappearance."

The pilot's 27-year-old daughter has just flown back from Australia, where she now lives, to be with the family.

Video: Malaysia defends search for missing jet

Security guards said the family had moved out of the house.

At least 26 countries are now assisting in the ground, sea and aerial search for the plane.

An RNZAF P-3 Orion has also joined the search and was yesterday concentrating on an area in the Indian Ocean, about 3000km southwest of Perth.

- NZ Herald

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