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Flight MH370 families get US$50,000 in first payout

KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysia Airlines' insurer has begun paying the families of passengers on board Flight MH370 US$50,000 each in initial compensation three months after the jet disappeared, a government official said Thursday.

So far six Malaysian and one Chinese family have received the advance payment, to which all the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board are entitled, said Malaysian deputy foreign minister Hamzah Zainudin.

Talks with 40 more Chinese families are underway to ascertain they are the rightful claimants, said Hamzah, who heads a committee to support the missing passengers' next of kin.

Full payment to the families — who can claim up to more than three times the amount of the initial payout — would be made later, Hamzah said.

The government was not yet prepared to declare the plane lost, he added.

“When we talk about the full payment, we have to wait until we announce the issue on the tragedy MH370 is over ... whether the plane is found, whether we announce the plane is lost,” he said.

Passengers' families can claim up to about US$175,000 under International Civil Aviation Organization rules, regardless of fault, in a plane crash.

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