A man told Malaysia Airlines that mobile phone of his brother rang three times yesterday morning before appearing to hang up.
Malaysia Airlines is investigating claims that the mobile phone of a passenger on the missing flight rang when his brother called it from Beijing.
An airline representative confirmed that the brother told them it rang three times yesterday morning before appearing to hang up.
However, Ignatius Ong said the number had been passed to the airline’s command office in Kuala Lumpur, the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia and governments of both nations for further investigation but all attempts to call the number had failed.
"I myself have called the number five times while the airline’s command center also called the number. We got no answering tone,” Ong told a press conference yesterday.
According to media reports, the brother had dialed the number in the presence of reporters and then informed the airline.
A phone company in Singapore said that its initial investigation had shown the number was out of credit.
The press conference was held at the Beijing Lido Hotel, where more than 100 relatives of the Chinese passengers on the flight have been anxiously waiting for information.
The airline has informed relatives that if they want to go to Malaysia, it will make efforts to assist them, Ong said, adding that the airline had begun to arrange for the first batch of relatives to set out for Malaysia.
The carrier is in communication with the Malaysian and Chinese governments to assist relatives with the first departure expected today, Xinhua news agency reported.
The airline has negotiated with Malaysian authorities to accelerate visa application procedures, Ong added, but only two direct relatives of each passenger will be allowed on the first flight due to limited seat numbers.
Ong said the airline had told passengers’ families to “prepare for the worst” and had drafted in a group of disaster relief experts from Atlanta to help in the aftermath.
Ong told the relatives that rescue teams had failed to detect a signal from the aircraft’s black box. Normally it can send signals over a distance of 200 kilometers.
As Ong was speaking, a female relative burst into tears and fainted. She was taken from the room by medical workers.
A woman, surnamed Zhang, said her husband was on the flight because he had wanted to return home to spend International Women’s Day (on Saturday) with her.
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