Malaysian plane MH370: families get $50,000 payments

image copyrightReuters
image captionMany of the families are struggling to accept that the plane may never be found

The families of passengers on the missing Malaysian passenger plane have begun to receive initial compensation payments of $50,000 (£30,000).

So far six Malaysian families and one Chinese family have received the money, and insurers are assessing the claims of 40 more Chinese families.

Relatives of all 239 missing passengers can claim up to $175,000 each.

Flight MH370 went missing on 8 March as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace of the plane has been found.

Malaysian deputy foreign minister Hamzah Zainudin stressed that the government has not yet declared the plane lost.

"When we talk about the full payment, we have to wait until we announce the issue on the tragedy MH370 is over," he said.

Malaysia Airlines' insurer, a consortium led by Germany's Allianz, is making the payments.

image copyrightAFP
image captionSome relatives have been critical of the Malaysian government's handling of the search

Many of the relatives also refuse to accept that their relatives may be dead.

A group of families has joined together to raise $5m (£2.9m) to investigate the plane's disappearance and encourage anyone who might have information to come forward.

A massive search operation conducted in seas hundreds of miles from any land has failed to find any debris from the plane.

Experts are continuing to survey the sea floor and are bringing in specialist equipment.

They believe the jet ended its journey in the Indian Ocean, hundreds of miles north-west of the Australian city of Perth.

image copyrightNOAA
image captionThe depth numbers in the map are estimates, with 95% of the view built from satellite altimetry data