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Malaysia Declares Flight MH370 An Accident
Malaysia declared on Thursday that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was an accident, clearing the way for the airline to pay compensation to victims’ relatives while the search for the plane continues.
The Boeing 777 aircraft (BA.N) disappeared on March 8 last year, with 239 passengers and crew on board, shortly after taking off from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing.
Months of searches have failed to turn up any trace of the aircraft.
“We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident … and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, said in a statement.
The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 in the International Civil Aviation, said Azharuddin.
The step will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation, he said.
Malaysia Airlines said it was ready to proceed immediately with the compensation process to the next-of-kin of the passengers on the flight.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters that Malaysia should settle claims with the families.
“We hope the Malaysian side honours its promises and fully investigates the incident, settling claims and making peace with the families, especially continuing to make all efforts to find the missing plane and its passengers,” Li said.
Most of the passengers on the plane were from China.
International investigators are looking into why the Boeing jet veered thousands of miles off course from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.
The search in the Indian Ocean is still going on and Malaysia is also conducting a criminal investigation, Azharuddin said.
“Both investigations are limited by the lack of physical evidence at this time, particularly the flight recorders,” he said.
“Therefore, at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident.”
The DCA plans to release an interim report on the investigation into the missing jetliner on March 7, a day before the first anniversary of the disappearance, a minister said on Wednesday.
Malaysia Airline’s crisis worsened on July 17 when its Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.