Flight MH370

Malaysia Airlines flight 370

Malaysian minister talks to MH370 families about financial help

As submarine continues search, relatives are urged to submit a plan for cash assistance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 12:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 6:22pm

A Malaysian minister yesterday met relatives of passengers on missing flight MH370 and discussed ways of providing them with financial assistance.

The move came as an unmanned submarine continued to search for any signs of the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin met families in Kuala Lumpur to talk about where to go next. Financial assistance was discussed and family members were urged to submit a plan for consideration. He declined to elaborate further, but said a fund could possibly be set up by the government or Malaysia Airlines.

"We realise this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board," said Hamzah, who heads a committee overseeing the needs of the next of kin. "No words can describe the pain they must be going through. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world."

He added that he would soon visit Beijing to shore up bilateral relations between Malaysia and China. Two-thirds of the missing plane's 227 passengers were Chinese, and many of their family members have been angered by Malaysia's handling of the investigation, with some accusing the government of lying, incompetence or participating in an outright cover-up.

After nearly a week of sweeping the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean with sonar, the unmanned sub began its eighth mission yesterday. The yellow device has already covered about half of its focused search area, but has yet to uncover any clues that could shed light on the mysterious disappearance of the plane more than six weeks ago.

The US Navy's Bluefin 21 has journeyed beyond its recommended depth of 4.5 kilometres to comb the silt-covered seabed off the coast of western Australia. Its search area forms a 10-kilometre radius around the location of an underwater signal that was believed to have come from the aircraft's black boxes. The search centre said the sonar scan of the sea floor in that area is expected to be completed this week.

On Saturday, Malaysia's acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, stressed the importance of the weekend submarine missions in the ocean, but said that even if no debris was recovered, the scope of the search may be broadened or other assets used.

Meanwhile, yesterday up to 11 aircraft and 12 ships continued to scan the ocean surface for debris from the Boeing 777, which disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Radar and satellite data show the jet mysteriously veered far off course for unknown reasons and would have run out of fuel in the remote section of the southern Indian Ocean where the search has been focused. Not one piece of debris has been recovered since the massive multinational hunt began.

There have been numerous leads, but all have turned out to be false.