SYDNEY/KUALA LUMPUR - The first funerals for passengers on board a missing Malaysia Airlines jet will be held this weekend, relatives said on Friday, as a Malaysian official urged relatives of those presumed dead to "face reality" and leave support centres.
Despite the most intensive air, sea and underwater search in commercial aviation history, no trace of Flight MH370 has been found since it vanished on a scheduled service from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8.
Almost eight weeks later, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has said it will close assistance centres it has set up in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur for the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777-200ER jet.
Many of the bereaved are Chinese.
On Friday, Malaysia's deputy foreign minister said it was time for relatives to be "realistic".
"We have been waiting to come up with a statement and all of us, be it the family members or the whole world, is actually looking for the answer," Hamzah Zainudin told a news conference.
The airline, he said, had been looking after and supporting family members in Beijing for 55 days.
"And that's the reason its about time for us to actually accept the reality that the family members should go back and wait for the answer in their hometowns."
Families, Malaysian officials said, would be told of developments in the search and those who qualified would receive prompt compensation.
Some families in Beijing have left for home, but others were resisting.
"Do you think I will leave? How many things do we need to do if we go back home? What will life be like after returning home?" said Wang Bao'an, the father of a passenger.