Ten Malaysia Airlines staff were held against their will for hours by Chinese relatives of flight MH370 passengers, the airline says.
The airline employees were “barred from leaving” a ballroom at a Beijing hotel for more than 10 hours on Thursday, and another staff member was kicked in the leg in a confrontation two days earlier, the airline said.
Tempers have repeatedly flared at the Lido Hotel, where Chinese relatives have been put up by the airline since the plane vanished, increasingly lashing out in briefings as Malaysian officials and the flag carrier have been unable to explain the plane’s disappearance.
“Malaysia Airlines confirms that its staff were held at the Lido Hotel ballroom in Beijing by the family members of MH370 as the families expressed dissatisfaction in obtaining details of the missing aircraft on 24 April 2014 at 3pm,” it said in a statement.
The more than 200 family members were incensed when a Malaysian government official did not come to brief them on Thursday, and the meeting descended into chaos as relatives angrily confronted airline staff.
An airline spokesman said: “the main MAS officials were barred from leaving the ballroom” as about 60 family members left for the Malaysian Embassy to demand information from government officials.
“The group finally released the staff at 1.44am, 25 April 2014,” the airline’s statement said.
The relatives who went to the embassy remained there in an overnight protest, two participants said on Friday.
The carrier also said a Malaysia Airlines security supervisor was “kicked in the left knee” by an “aggressive” Chinese family member at the hotel on Tuesday.
The airline said it had filed a police report on the incident.
About two-thirds of the 239 passengers aboard the missing plane came from China.
Chinese relatives have for weeks complained bitterly about what they call Malaysia’s secretive and incompetent handling of the search for the plane, which vanished March 8.
It disappeared from radar on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and is believed to have crashed far out in the Indian Ocean.