Perth wants loved ones to be ‘com­fort­able’

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA -

Bradley Woods is in a re­flec­tive mood. The CEO of the Aus­tralian Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion (Western Aus­tralia) has just been told to find rooms for be­tween 600 to 1,200 people — rel­a­tives of those killed on board Malaysia Air­lines Flight MH370.

“That is just an es­ti­mate we have been given,” Woods said.

“We’ll not know for sure un­til wreck­age has been for­mally iden­ti­fied, I guess, as to the ac­tual num­bers com­ing. But we have been asked to be ready just the same.”

Woods and his team work from their of­fices be­hind the im­pres­sive state par­lia­ment build­ing, la­bor­ing tire­lessly to con­tact ev­ery ho­tel in the city.

There have been some sug­ges­tions that Perth sim­ply does not have the ca­pac­ity to take a sud­den in­flux of up to 1,200 people, but Woods dis­counts that.

“We have the ca­pac­ity and will be ready,” he said.

For the past week now, Perth has been the cen­ter of a mas­sive in­ter­na­tional sea and air search for the re­mains of flight MH370, which is said to have crashed into the In­dian Ocean, killing all 239 pas­sen­gers — mostly Chi­nese — and a crew of 12.

The story has at­tracted jour­nal­ists from all over the world, and mil­i­tary air­craft and crews from at least six na­tions.

“They all have to stay some­where,” Woods said.

“So far, we have not had a prob­lem cop­ing with the in­flux.”

Perth has around 11,000 be­come a ma­jor lo­gis­tics ex­er­cise that in­volves the Aus­tralian federal govern­ment, the govern­ment of Western Aus­tralia, con­sulates and gov­ern­ments from 14 coun­tries who lost cit­i­zens aboard flight MH370, Malaysia Air­lines and dozens of in­ves­ti­ga­tors and air­crews from at least six na­tions, in­clud­ing China.

“They all have to find some­where to stay,” Woods tells me.

Ac­com­mo­da­tion and all meals for the rel­a­tives will be booked and paid for by Malaysia Air­lines. As yet they have not made any book­ings, just asked for avail­abil­ity.

Woods said daily menus and in­for­ma­tion for rel­a­tives are be­ing pre­pared by a num­ber of con­sulates.

As most of those killed on board the flight were from China, ho­tels around the city are mak­ing sure they have enough Chi­nese-speak­ing staff and cooks.

Woods said that once the wreck­age has been for­mally iden­ti­fied as be­ing from MH370, rel­a­tives will be­gin to come.

Some may travel in­di­vid­u­ally, while oth­ers may pre­fer to come in a group to pro­vide com­fort to each an­other.

“This is a very tragic time,” Woods said.

“We need to make sure all those rel­a­tives who lost loved ones and de­cide to come to Perth have as com­fort­able a stay as pos­si­ble given the tragic cir­cum­stances.” Con­tact the writer at karl­wil­son@chi­nadai­lya­pac.com

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