The family members of the missing passengers from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are demanding answers after several people reported that the passengers' cell phones were ringing. According to Mashable, a family member of one of the passengers appeared on a Chinese TV show and said that she heard ringing when she dialed her brother's cell number.
"This morning, around 11:40 a.m., I called my brother's number twice, and I got the ringing tone," Bian Liangwei said.
While on air, she then dialed the number again and listened as the phone rang before being disconnected. A reporter with China.org.cn said that 19 families signed a joint petition demanding answers from Malaysia Airlines.
Some of the family members wanted to know why the phones would be ringing, hoping that it meant the missing passengers were alive. Others thought if the phones were able to ring then police and investigators would be able to locate the plane using a GPS tracking device.
Sadly, the ringing cell phones are only providing false hope to the families. Industry experts said the just because the cell is ringing doesn't mean the call is being picked up by the other person, USA Today reports.
"The ringing is not actually ringing at the other phone yet," Jeff Kagan, an industry analyst said. "It's just telling you that the network is in the process of finding and connecting to it."
He explained that calls placed locally usually connect immediately whereas long-distance or international calls might "ring" several times before going through or being disconnected by the system. According to the newspaper, every carrier handles voicemails differently but the majority handles calls similarly.
Sometimes when a person hears ringing, it's just to keep the caller from hanging up when they don't hear any sounds, Amy Storey, a spokeswoman for a Washington D.C. based trade group for wireless carries said.
"The ringing sound has nothing to do with the actual 'ringing' of the called party's device," she said.
Kagan also added that the ringing people here while calling the victim's phones is just "part of the process of wireless" communication but "in this particular case it's painful because it gives people false hope."
Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy told the families during a meeting that the company also experienced the same thing when the dialed the numbers of the missing crew members.