The West

Families set to arrive in Perth
Grief: Yenny, the sister of Sugianto Lo who was aboard MH370, weeps on the couch as she watches a news update on the search at the family residence in Medan, Indonesia. Picture: AP

The grief-stricken families of passengers aboard missing Flight MH370 are expected to begin arriving in Perth within days as search teams race to locate the plane's black box before it stops emitting a locator signal.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia would waive visa fees for the families, telling Parliament that those who come "will be in the arms of a decent country".

The Malaysian Government said on Monday night the plane had been lost in the southern Indian Ocean.

The enormity of the search was laid bare yesterday with Vice-Chief of the Defence Force Mark Binskin saying teams were not searching for a needle in a haystack but rather still trying to find the haystack.

US officials said the Pentagon had rushed a special undersea "pinger" locator to Perth to hopefully find the black box flight recorder. The locator, which will likely be towed behind a warship, is the best hope of finding the black box before it runs out of batteries in 12 days.

Planes from South Korea arrived yesterday but the search lost valuable time when it was abandoned in bad weather.

Defence Minister David Johnston said the search would be put on hold for at least 24 hours, warning the area of the Indian Ocean where the plane is thought to have gone down was dangerous and remote.

It was expected to resume today with up to 12 planes as Chinese ships were likely to reach the search area.

The family of Perth man Paul Weeks, who was onboard MH370, were comforting one another yesterday at the home he shared with wife Danica and their two sons at The Vines.

Mr Weeks, who moved to Perth from New Zealand more than two years ago, was en route to his first shift as an engineering supervisor in Mongolia.

Mrs Weeks said she was trying to come to terms with the unbelievable situation and was focusing on her boys, Lincoln, 3, and Jack, 11 months.

Her mother, Kay Thompson, said everyone had hoped for something better. "You can imagine how we feel," she said.

"We have been waiting for two weeks but that is the way it is and we are all dreadfully sad."

Malaysia Airlines is examining options to fly relatives of the passengers to Perth.

It has said it would pay for relatives to fly to Perth if and when debris was found.

The West Australian

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