Having already endured a marathon wait for information, families of passengers were still clinging on to hope as night fell in Beijing, keeping vigil at a hotel desperate for any morsel of information.
Chinese authorities directed families to the Lido Hotel in Beijing after crowds began to form at the airport.
As many as 200 people waited for news in a hotel conference room for most of the day.
But with information remaining scarce, some 17 hours after the flight lost contact, nerves had begun to fray.
Relatives and friends were left frustrated by the absence of any Malaysia Airlines presence at the hotel, saying "volunteers" were left to relay second-hand information.
One relative, who said his father-in-law was on board the flight, lashed out at what he saw as a slow response from Malaysia Airlines in addressing the concerns of families.
“There has been no one from the airline here to see us or tell us what’s happened,” the man, who declined to be named, told reporters.
“There are elderly people in here crying, a lot of women in here crying, and they are doing nothing."
He Xin, 26, said her 24-year-old friend from Tianjin was on board the flight, returning from a holiday in Malaysia.
"I didn't dare tell her parents, though I guess they've seen the news now," she said.
"She's an only-child."
The Malaysia Airlines flight had 153 Chinese on board among which included two groups, one of artists and their families who had participated in a cultural exchange and another of Buddhists returning from a religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur.
The story Malaysia Airlines keeps families in the dark as search continues first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.