Search for missing MH370: Relatives being prepared for the worst

But some not giving up hope amid signs of possible crash in remote sea

With mounting signs that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could have crashed into the remote southern Indian Ocean, relatives of the 239 passengers and crew on board are being prepared to expect the worst possible outcome.

However, while hope has dwindled day by day among the relatives, there were some who refused to give in to despair.

Mr Selamat Umar, 60, whose son Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat, 29, was on the missing plane, said yesterday: "I have always been hoping that the plane has been hijacked. But the news breaks in the past few days have been shocking and sad. I pray for the plane to be found soon, but no news of the plane also brings hope to my family that my son would still be alive."

He was speaking at Everly Hotel in Putrajaya, where he has kept vigil since the plane went missing.

Yesterday, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in charge of the search in the Indian Ocean said it continued to "hold grave fears for the passengers and crew on board the missing flight".

The statement came after several objects were spotted in the southern Indian Ocean. These are believed to be from the Malaysian plane, which had vanished on March 8.

The statement served to prepare relatives of the passengers for the worst. Poor conditions in the search area indicate there is little chance of finding survivors.

"I believe my sister will return home one day, alive or not," said a relative who wanted to be known only as Mr Chng.

The 37-year-old was full of anger last week when he learnt that the Australian authorities had waited four days before revealing the satellite images that provided the first "credible" lead of the plane's whereabouts.

He thought his sister Meiling, 33, who was on the plane, could have been saved if the information had been released earlier.

But speaking yesterday from his home in Sungai Petani, Kedah, he sounded resigned to a less positive outcome.

Last Friday, Malaysia Airlines moved 26 Chinese relatives from the Cyberview Resort and Spa in Cyberjaya to Hotel Equatorial Bangi in Putrajaya to keep them away from the media.

Over at Beijing's Metropark Lido Hotel yesterday, tension between the high-level delegation from Kuala Lumpur and the hundreds of frustrated family members once again came to a head, as the delegation insisted that the physical safety of the officials be guaranteed, with no media allowed, before they met the families again.

This came after a chaotic scene at Saturday's meeting that caused the delegation to end the meeting abruptly after half an hour.

Yesterday's meeting stretched for hours into the late afternoon, and again focused on technical details, said families who attended.

In India, the family of Ms Kranti Shirsath, 44, who was on her way to visit her husband Prahlad in North Korea, is losing hope.

"We were hoping it would be a hijacking. Now, news is coming of debris being found. There is very little hope now," said Mr Ashok Hunge, Ms Kranti's brother, from the southern city of Pune.

Five Indian passengers were on board MH370.

Mr K.S. Narendran, whose wife Chandrika Sharma, 55, was on her way to a conference in Ulan Bator, said he would believe that the plane had been discovered only when the debris was verified by eye.

"I am waiting to know what the facts are. I know something will be discovered in good time. Till then, I am not going to give rein to hope or sink into despondency," he said from his home in the southern Chennai city.