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Asia-pacific

Malaysia Airlines tell MH370 families to go home

© AFP file picture

Video by Yuka ROYER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-01

Malaysia Airlines on Thursday told families of passengers who were on board the missing MH370 plane to leave the hotel accommodation they have been provided with and wait for any updates about the ongoing search from home.

Since the Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, the airline has been putting the relatives up in hotels, where they have been briefed on the search. But the airline said in a statement that it would close its family assistance centers around the world by May 7, and that the families should receive search updates from “the comfort of their own homes.”

Relatives' tempers have repeatedly flared, particularly at the Lido Hotel in Beijing where Chinese families have regularly lashed out at officials from the Malaysian government and the airline over their inability to explain the plane's disappearance.

The airline said last week that 10 of its staff were held against their will for more than 10 hours at the Lido Hotel by angry relatives.

The government-controlled carrier said it would soon make advance compensation payments to the next-of-kin of the 239 people onboard the plane, part of a final package to be agreed upon later. It did not specify the amounts.

The airline also had provided psychiatric support at hotels for families trying to cope with the tragedy.

The carrier said it would establish centres in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur to provide "follow-up support and services" but gave no further details.

The plane vanished during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. About two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

No wreckage from the plane has been found, and an aerial search for surface debris ended Monday after six weeks of fruitless hunting. An unmanned sub is continuing to search underwater in an area of the southern Indian Ocean where sounds consistent with a plane’s black box were detected in early April. Additional equipment is expected to be brought in within the next few weeks to scour an expanded underwater area.

The head of the search effort has predicted that the search could drag on for as long as a year.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Date created : 2014-05-01

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