KUALA LUMPUR - Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive officer of Malaysia Airlines, said Tuesday that families would be brought to the recovery areas if they so wished, after the company received approval from the investigating authorities.
“Until that time, we will continue to support the ongoing investigation,” he said. He said the company’s overwhelming focus would still be to provide the families with a comprehensive support program. He said an initial financial assistance of 5,000 U.S. dollars per passenger has been provided, and they were preparing to offer additional payments as the search continued. Md Nor Md Yusof, chairman of Malaysia Airlines, also said they would continue to support the families and to support the authorities as the search for definitive answers continued.
Meanwhile western Australia’s (WA) capital Perth is preparing to recieve families of those who perished in the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Sammy Yap, president of the Chung-Wah Association, WA’s largest Chinese organization, said the Chinese community in WA was ready for the arrival of the grieving families.”We stand ready to help in any way we can,” Yap told the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “Perth is a city which will try to ease their pain, and help them come to terms with their loss.”
A reception center for the grieving families from China and elsewhere is thought to be established by the State and Federal governments.”We will be able to offer them comfort in any form, it is very important to ease the mental stress, sadness and shock,” Lily Chen, president of Australian Chinese Women’s Federation said. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Australian government would waive visa fees for the relatives of passengers on the ill-fated flight.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Monday the U.S. had sent a towed pinger locator, an autonomous underwater vehicle and trained personnel to Australia in case the equipment is needed to search for the black box of the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner. A towed pinger locator and a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle were flown out of JFK Airport in New York to Perth, Australia, Kirby confirmed at the Pentagon press briefing. “There will be a small number of people going along with them,” he added. “I think there are two on the flight with the gear itself, and then another eight folks will be flying separately to Perth to prepare the equipment.”
The towed pinger locator could be used to locate the missing airliner’s black box, while the Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle has sophisticated sonars that could be used to locate wreckage, he said. The underwater unmanned vehicle can dive to 14,700 feet, and if needed, the vehicle will operate off an Australian commercial ship, he said. However, Kirby stressed that the equipment is being sent to Perth just in case “there be a need.” “We don’t have a debris field that we can go look for specifically,” Kirby said. “We don’t have anything to indicate where the aircraft is, or even that it is down at the bottom of the ocean.”
Asked if the U.S. Navy will step up search efforts in the region, Kirby said there is “no immediate changes on the horizon that I see from the U.S. Navy’s perspective.” The U.S. side is currently “focused on fixed-wing aircraft” with one P-3 and one P-8 patrol aircraft and the equipment that Beijing sent there in case it is needed, he said.
“Search missions in general, particularly those at sea, they change over time based on the conditions and based on the information that investigators continue to accrue,” Kirby said, “So, we’ll see.”