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Malaysia releases preliminary MH370 report

Authorities took four hours to start search and rescue operation, as airline tells MH370 families to return home.

Last updated: 02 May 2014 01:57
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Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8, with 12 crew members and 227 passengers [AP]

Malaysian authorities took four hours to start a search and rescue operation for a missing Boeing 777, with 17 minutes elapsing before they realised it had gone off the radar, a report has revealed.

The five-page report, published on Thursday night by the Malaysian government, did not detail what Malaysian authorities did during that four-hour period, except that they contacted Singapore, Hong Kong and Cambodia regarding MH370.

The report was dated April 9. Flight MH370 went missing on March 8. Most of the 229 passengers, who were travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, were Chinese.

Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive officer at Malaysia Airlines, issued a statement on Thursday.

He called the ensuing search operation "probably the largest one in human history" and said the fate of the aircraft, its crew and passengers remained unknown.

"Malaysia Airlines is acutely conscious of, and deeply sympathetic to the continuing unimaginable anguish, distress and hardship suffered by those with loved ones on board the flight. 

"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."

The airline would close its global family assistance centres by May 7 and that advanced compensation payments would be made as soon as possible to nominated next of kin.

Such payments would not affect the rights of relatives to pursue compensation through the courts, he added.

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