Controllers kept military in the dark
A Chinese woman tries to comfort others, relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines MH370 cry outside the Malaysia embassy in Beijing.

Malaysia Airlines is closing family assistance centres set up to help the relatives of passengers aboard its missing plane MH370.

New centres will be established in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

The announcement came overnight as the preliminary report into the plane's disappearance was released by the Malaysian Government.

The report will anger relatives and loved ones of the 239 passengers and crew aboard the plane who were promised transparency and honesty by the Malaysian Government.

MH370 MYSTERY - FULL COVERAGE

It comes as Malaysian sources told The West Australian that if MH370 was not in the current search zone off WA, authorities had "no idea where it is".

While announcing the closure of the family centres, the airline also said it would make "advanced compensation payments" to nominated next-of-kin.

"From past experience, we understand the continuing search and investigation would be a prolonged process," the airline said.

"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.

"In line with this adjustment, Malaysia Airlines will be closing all of its Family Assistance Centres around the world by 7 May."

"Malaysia Airlines will keep in close touch with the families on news updates through telephone calls, messages, the Internet, and face-to-face meetings.

"With the support of the Malaysian Government, the airline’s Family Support Centres will be established in Kuala Lumpur and in Beijing. The detailed plan of follow-up support and services will be informed in person to the families.

Malaysia Airlines will make advanced compensation payments soonest possible to the nominated next-of-kin who are entitled to claim compensation, in order to meet their immediate economic needs.

The five-page preliminary report has been described by one former crash investigator as "barely adequate".

International flight crews at Pearce Air base involved in the search for MH370 gather for a farewell picture after Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the end of the air search phase. Picture: Reuters.

"In fact, the leaks from Malaysian Government officials tell us more than this report," the investigator said.

However, a few new facts have emerged. The report says that Malaysian air traffic control did not contact its military after the aircraft disappeared from radar and did not start a search for the plane until four hours after it went missing.

Traffic control only made contact with Singapore, Hong Kong and Cambodia air traffic authorities to find out if the pilots of MH370 had been in touch.

It was also revealed that Vietnamese air traffic control waited 17 minutes to alert authorities the plane had not made contact after signing off from Malaysia.

Authorities are convinced the jet crashed in the search area where four pings were detected by Australian Defence Vessel Ocean Shield on April 5 and 8 - about 1000km west of Exmouth in the Indian Ocean.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre yesterday reaffirmed the search area - 700km long and 80km wide. The search could take up to eight months.

"The joint international team is satisfied that the final resting place of the missing aircraft is in the southerly portion of the search arc," JACC said.

The Bluefin-21 is searching in the area and will be joined by other equipment including a submersible called Orion, which can operate to a depth of 6000m.

Map showing the possible routes of MH370, contained in the report.

The West Australian

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