The families of those still missing after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have slammed the Malaysian government's assertion that the flight was an accident, arguing that no evidence has been found to support the claim.
On Thursday, Malaysia officially declared that the disappearance of the flight was an accident, clearing the way for the airline to pay compensation to victims' relatives while the search for the plane goes on, Reuters reports.
"We hope the Malaysian side honors its promises and fully investigates the incident, settling claims and making peace with the families, especially continuing to make all efforts to find the missing plane and its passengers," said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
However, families of those still missing refuse to accept the government's conclusions, calling them a "convenient excuse."
"They are trying to wash their hands off it. There is no evidence it was an accident, but that is the most convenient excuse for them. Just a few months ago, they were claiming the plane was potentially hijacked," Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Woods was onboard the flight, told DW in a recent interview.
The fate of the flight has remained a mystery since March 8, when it disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people on board. While the Boeing 777 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, international search efforts have not provided any clues as to what happened to the plane.
"There is ample evidence that the lack of proper response from Malaysia Airlines, air traffic control, and the Malaysian military is directly responsible for the plane being allowed to disappear," Ms. Bajc said.
"My life partner is missing. That leaves a huge hole in my daily life and in my future. Beyond that terrible, ambiguous loss, I am permanently scarred by the cruel handling of the case by the authorities."
Other family members have also criticized the "inconsiderate" manner in which the government handled information and communications about the incident.
Ms Kelly Wen, the wife of Chinese passenger Li, told TodayOnline that the timing of the announcement was thoughtless, given that most of the MH370 victims were Chinese, and the Chinese New Year was just around the corner. She added that she would not accept the declaration without any evidence of the plane or bodies.
"Malaysia has made this announcement without any evidence," said Jiang Hui, whose mother was on board the flight, according to ABC News.
"It is cold, cruel, irresponsible and illegal. It takes away our only pillar of support."
In the meantime, Malaysian officials have said it, China and Australia remained firmly committed to the search for the missing flight, a multi-million dollar underwater endeavour. Additionally, an interim report will be released by the Malaysian department of civil aviation on the eve of the anniversary of the plane's disappearance, March 7.