Thursday, March 27, 2014, 08:57
Grieving families still waiting for answers

 Grieving families still waiting for answers

No one knows when the families of those killed on Malaysian Airways Flight MH370 will start arriving in Perth, Western Australia, but when they do, the state government wants to do everything it can to ease their pain and suffering.

“We don’t know numbers as yet,” said Danielle Benda, senior media adviser to state Premier Colin Barnett.

There have been some suggestions of up to 1,000 people, which will put a strain on this city’s already limited hotel resources.

“It really doesn’t matter how many decide to make the trip ... It is still going to be a very traumatic time for them,” she said.

The federal government in Canberra has already been in contact with the state government “about arrangements”.

Benda could not go into detail except to say “a lot of work is being done behind the scenes”.

For the families, they will be trying to seek some sort of closure to their grief in an aviation mystery that poses more questions than answers.

There are no bodies to bury or funerals for loved ones. Instead they will be flown over one of the most desolate corners of the world in the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,500 kilometers southwest of Perth, where Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed with all 239 passengers — most of whom were Chinese — and crew.

There is no guarantee either that they will actually be flown to the area or who will fly them. This is a detail that has yet to be clarified.

Barnett has made it clear that whatever assistance is needed will be provided through his office, the Department of the Premier, and the Cabinet.

“We will do whatever we can to welcome these families to Western Australia at this very sad time and assist with their stay here.”

But the logistics will be tight.

Earlier in the day, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott moved a condolence motion in the federal Parliament as the families of the six Australians and an Australian resident sat in the public gallery.

Abbott praised the cooperation and professionalism shown in the international search effort, which is being coordinated out of Canberra. All military and civilian search aircraft, however, are flying out of Perth.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the fate of Flight MH370 was a terrible tragedy, unimaginable a century ago in the days before commercial air travel.

“We do tend to assume that when we enter these aluminum tubes — powered by remarkable engines, crewed by remarkable staff — that our safety is a given,” he told Parliament.

“The disappearance of Flight MH370 is a reminder that nothing can ever be taken for granted.

“I cannot imagine at the moment the grief which families are feeling.” 

In the meantime, the search continues for debris in the Indian Ocean in a search area covering about 80,000 square km.

Weather forecast say conditions in the area have deteriorated during the day and there is a question mark whether there will be any flying tomorrow. Meanwhile Perth is readying itself for the grieving relatives who are asking one simple question: Why?

Contact the writer at karlwilson@chinadailyapac.com.