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    MH370: first memorials planned for missing passengers

    May 03, 2014

    The first memorials for passengers on board the missing MalaysiaAirlines jet will be held this weekend, relatives have said, as a Malaysian official on Friday urged relatives of those presumed dead to "face reality" and leave support centres.

    Despite the most intensive air, sea and underwater search in commercial aviation history, no trace of flight MH370 has been found since it vanished on a scheduled service from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March.

     

    Almost eight weeks later, Malaysia Airlines has said it will close assistance centres it set up in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.

     

    Malaysia's deputy foreign minister said on Friday it was time for relatives to be "realistic".

     

    "We have been waiting to come up with a statement and all of us, be it the family members or the whole world, is actually looking for the answer," Hamzah Zainudin told a news conference.

     

    The airline, he said, had been looking after and supporting family members in Beijing for 55 days.

     

    "And that's the reason its about time for us to actually accept the reality that the family members should go back and wait for the answer in their hometowns."

     

    Families, Malaysian officials said, would be told of developments in the search and those who qualified would receive prompt compensation. Some families in Beijing have left for home, but others were resisting.

     

    Relatives of other passengers were moving on. Family and friends of Rod and Mary Burrows, two of six Australians on board the flight, will hold a memorial service in Brisbane on Sunday, said a statement on their behalf released by police.

     

    The family, it said, sought "privacy and request their solitude be respected during this difficult time".

     

    Details of the memorial were announced a day after Malaysia released its most comprehensive account of what happened to MH370, detailing the route the plane probably took as it veered off course and the confusion that followed.

     

    The preliminary report, however, left many questions unanswered, including whether the aircraft was deliberately diverted after communications were disabled.

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