BEIJING: Families of the Chinese nationals onboard Flight MH370 have left Lido Hotel here following Malaysia Airlines' decision to close all its family assistance centres.
A notice was put up to inform the families that MAS would stop providing food and accommodation effective 6pm yesterday at the Lido, Rosedale and Chunhuiyuan hotels where lodging had been provided to the relatives since March 8.
The families were seen bidding each other farewell at the Lido Hotel lobby before departing in batches.
The doors of the ballroom where daily briefings were held for the families were locked up when the deadline expired.
There was another notice put up to inform the families that MAS would make an advance compensation payment of US$50,000 (S$62,665) upon their return home to help them cope financially.
"Details will be announced via our official communication platform within two weeks," the notice read.
A MAS official said the airline would be in close touch with the families.
"They will be able to contact us via our family support centre and three 24-hour hotlines," he said.
The centre at Shunyi district here will start operating from tomorrow and will take charge of communicating with the MAS headquarters and the Malaysian and Chinese governments, besides coordinating the dissemination of the latest updates to the families.
"We are also going to keep them updated via SMS which will be in Mandarin," the official disclosed.
Meanwhile, the families' committee said on its official Weibo account that the families were "helpless over this sudden and irresponsible announcement" on the closure of the centres.
"Many of us are suddenly left with nowhere to go. Where should the old people and the next of kin from outstation go? Where is the plane? Where are our family members?" the posting, which was deleted several hours later, stated.
It was reported that the relatives wailed and yelled when the announcement was made during a briefing on Thursday.
The report said a video of MAS CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya making a seven-minute announcement was played for the next of kin.