MH370: Families start receiving initial $50,000 compensation payments

Relatives of the missing Malaysian Airlines passengers have also started a crowdfunding campaign for "truth"

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The Independent Online

It will be of only little solace to those who are yet to learn of the fate of their partners and relatives aboard missing flight MH370, but seven families have received an initial compensation payment of $50,000 (£30,000).

Malaysian deputy foreign minister Hamzah Zainudin confirmed that the advance payment had been given to one Chinese and six Malaysian families so far.

It is understood that all families of the 239 passengers and crew onboard are entitled to the payout.

Under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, passengers’ relatives can receive up to $175,000 in compensation, though the decision on when this full amount will be paid has yet to be made, with Mr Zainudin asserting that the plane has yet to be formally declared lost.

Malaysian Airlines’ insurer is issuing the payments, as talks with 40 more Chinese families try to ascertain whether they are the rightful claimants, according to Agence France-Presse. Two thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

However, Steve Wang, a spokesman for some of the distraught relatives, said that the families of 127 - out of the 153 - Chinese passengers would refuse the payment.

“Once you can issue a convincing report that announces that all the people on the plane have died, then fine, we will move into the compensation phase,” he said. Until then they would like separate financial assistance as the search continues.

Despite Mr Zainudin claiming today that “the government has been very transparent from day one,” the families have rallied together in an attempt to raise $5million as a reward for any whistleblower who can offer secret or sensitive information that may lead to the plane’s whereabouts.

Posting a video on crowdfunding site Indiegogo on June 8, the campaign has so far racked up $30,000 in donations.

Sarah Bajc, the partner of missing passenger Philip Wood, wrote on the site: "The official investigation being run by governments and agencies has failed to find the plane, due to either incompetence or obfuscation. We must work together to ensure the truth is found.

A part of the campaign summary also says: "We believe there is a person or persons who know the truth about what happened, and know where the plane is. We want to encourage the truth to come out by offering a substantial reward."

While a Malaysian official has said that their country and Australia will split the cost of trying to find the Boeing 777, Australian Transport Minister Warren Truss was a bit more hesitant, the Associated Press said.

As the search for the aircraft – which disappeared on March 8 travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing – drags on, the Australian government could spend AUS$90million (£50million) on the search come July 2015.

Investigators are now concentrating on its next area of interest – 21,600sq miles of seabed up to four miles deep.