Support centre in Beijing for family members of missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 to close

BEIJING (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The MH370 family support centre at Shunyi in the outskirts of Beijing will be closed from Tuesday onwards, after operating for nearly a full year.

The centre, staffed by officials from the governments of Malaysia and China and Malaysia Airlines, was set up on May 4 last year for the families of the Chinese nationals onboard the missing Malaysian Airlines flight.

It was the place where the next-of-kin received information on matters pertaining to the airliner that vanished mysteriously on March 8 with 239 people on board, two-thirds of them from China.

The family members were informed last week of the decision to shut down the support centre.

A notice signed off by "Chinese government joint working platform" said the decision was made after considering the current circumstances.

It said the next-of-kin can continue to raise their reasonable requests through the petition channels under the State Bureau for Letters and Calls.

Chinese family members - both Beijing locals and out-of-towners - have been making frequent visits to the centre in the past one year, pressing for updates related to the flight's disappearance.

In January, Malaysia officially declared the disappearance of MH370 as an accident, will all passengers and crew members presumed dead.

The search for the jetliner is still going on in the southern Indian Ocean, where it is believed to have ended its journey.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai recently said the search area would be extended by another 60,000 sq km if the Boeing 777 is not found in the current search area by May.

In his New Year's message earlier this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to continue making all possible efforts to find the Chinese nationals on the missing MH370.