Malaysia says MH370 crash an accident to clear compensation

Associated Press

Malaysia’s government formally declared still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 an accident on Thursday and said all those on board were presumed dead, paving the way for compensation claims but angering victims’ families still waiting for evidence of the plane’s fate.

Civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the search for the jet would continue and “remains a priority.” The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The plane is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, off the coast of western Australia. No confirmed debris has ever been found.

The declaration will help facilitate financial claims by families, and Malaysia Airlines is ready to proceed with the compensation process, Azharuddin said.

“After 327 days and based on all available data as well as circumstances … survivability in the defined area is highly unlikely. It is therefore with the heaviest heart and deepest sorrow that we officially declare MalaysiaAirlines Flight MH370 an accident,” he said in a pre-recorded statement broadcast on Malaysian television.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the governments of Malaysia, China and Australia had agreed on the announcement, which was intended to “enable the families to move forward.”

However, in China, where most of the passengers came from, some family members refused to accept the official position that the plane was lost.

“There’s nothing new. The Malaysian authorities have been covering up the truth from the get-go, and they have no credibility to speak of. We are not accepting the conclusion,” said Wen Wancheng, whose son Wen Yongsheng was on the plane.

“Because you have no evidence at all. How can you come to such a conclusion?” said Wang Chunjiang, who lost his brother Wang Chunyong. “Chinese New Year is coming up. Why did you choose now to make the announcement?”

Li Jingxin, the brother of Li Zhixin, a laborer who was returning to China on the flight, said the family would not accept any compensation from the airline for now.

“They have found nothing. With nothing found, how can they make any announcement?” Li said.

Azharuddin said that Malaysia, China and Australia had spared no expense and resources in their search for the plane, but were still unable to locate it.