Family members of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 collapsed on the floor and began weeping yesterday at Beijing’s Lido Hotel when the airline announced that it was closing assistance centers where they’d been gathered for weeks following news of the plane’s disappearance—meaning there would be no more mass daily briefings for the relatives and that they would be returning home with no answers as to what happened to the passengers onboard.
“What can we do?” one relative yelled when authorities had broken the news in a hotel briefing room, CNN reports.
“Who will find our family members?” another said.
Yesterday, Malaysia Airlines released a statement on its website reading:
While Malaysia Airlines is committed to continuing its support to the families during the whole process, we are adjusting the mode of services and support. Instead of staying in hotels, the families of MH370 are advised to receive information updates on the progress of the search and investigation and other support by Malaysia Airlines within the comfort of their own homes, with the support and care of their families and friends.
In line with this adjustment, Malaysia Airlines will be closing all of its Family Assistance Centres around the world by 7 May 2014.
A relative of one of the passengers onboard the missing flight said that people began to break down upon hearing the news and that police officers had to enter the room. Chinese officials assured family members that the search would continue, but some relatives returning to their rural homes in China expressed apprehension that they wouldn’t be able to receive timely updates, as internet isn’t as accessible there.
Meanwhile, preliminary reports on the plane’s disappearance released Thursday by Malaysia showed that air traffic controllers didn’t realize the flight was missing until 17 minutes after it vanished from civilian radar, and that a search operation wasn’t activated for four hours.