Rel­a­tives are asked to re­turn home

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By XU WEI and AN BAIJIE

Malaysia Air­lines on Thurs­day ad­vised rel­a­tives of pas­sen­gers on miss­ing flight MH370 to leave the ho­tels where they have been stay­ing and re­ceive up­dates “within the com­fort of their own homes, with the sup­port and care of their fam­i­lies and friends”.

The com­pany said that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the search for the plane — which has been miss­ing for 55 days — would be a pro­longed process.

The rel­a­tives have been re­ceiv­ing up­dates in ho­tels since the plane dis­ap­peared, but the com­pany an­nounced it would close all of the Fam­ily As­sis­tance Cen­ters around the world by May 7.

“Malaysia Air­lines will keep in close touch with the fam­i­lies on news up­dates through tele­phone calls, mes­sages, the In­ter­net and face-to-face meet­ings,” the com­pany said in a state­ment re­leased on its web­site on Thurs­day evening.

There was still no trace of the miss­ing flight, and the fate of the miss­ing pas­sen­gers and crew re­mains un­known, said the state­ment.

The Boe­ing 777-200ER, with 239 pas­sen­gers and crew on board, dis­ap­peared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Bei­jing on March 8.

The com­pany promised to make “ad­vance com­pen­sa­tion pay­ments” to the rel­a­tives as soon as pos­si­ble. The ad­vance pay­ments will not af­fect the rights of the rel­a­tives to claim com­pen­sa­tion later, and will be cal­cu­lated as part of any fi­nal com­pen­sa­tion.

A Malaysian trans-min­is­te­rial group in­clud­ing the coun­try’s trans­port, for­eign af­fairs and civil avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties, briefed the rel­a­tives at the Metropark Lido Ho­tel in Bei­jing on Thurs­day.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the fam­i­lies who at­tended the brief­ing said that it is dif­fi­cult to per­suade all of the rel­a­tives to leave the ho­tels.

There were about 500 to 600 fam­ily mem­bers stay­ing in the ho­tel in Bei­jing, and they are un­likely to leave with­out suf­fi­cient com­mu­ni­ca­tion, said the rep­re­sen­ta­tive who only gave his sur­name, Jiang.

A fam­ily mem­ber sur­named Li said that he doubted whether Malaysia Air­lines could pro­vide timely in­for­ma­tion af­ter rel­a­tives leave the ho­tels.

Many of the rel­a­tives are not sat­is­fied with the com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Malaysia Air­lines, said Li, whose cousin was a pas­sen­ger on the flight. An­other man, whose wife was on board, said that he did not know what to do next ex­cept wait.

Also on Thurs­day, the Malaysian govern­ment pub­lished a five-page pre­lim­i­nary re­port, which it had sent ear­lier to the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the UN agency that gov­erns global avi­a­tion.

“There have now been two oc­ca­sions dur­ing the last five years when large commercial air­craft have gone miss­ing and their last po­si­tion was not ac­cu­rately known. This un­cer­tainty re­sulted in sig­nif­i­cant dif­fi­culty in lo­cat­ing the air­craft in a timely man­ner,” said the re­port. Agencies and Hou Liqiang con­trib­uted to this story. Con­tact the writ­ers at xuwei@chi­ and an­bai­jie@chi­

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