Malaysia, Flight 370 relatives talk financial help

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Malaysia, Flight 370 relatives talk financial help
One of relatives of Chinese passengers onboard the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 grieves at a hotel conference room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 18, 2014. A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray at a hotel conference room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 18, 2014. A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray at a hotel conference room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 18, 2014. A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines 370 walk out from a video-conference with Malaysian officials in protest at the difficulties of communications in Beijing, China, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. A robotic submarine looking for the lost Malaysian jet continued its second seabed search on Wednesday as up to 14 planes were to take to the skies for some of the final sweeps of the Indian Ocean for floating debris from the ill-fated airliner. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
One of relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray at a hotel conference room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 18, 2014. A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines 370 wait in a room after walking out to protest the difficulties of communicating with Malaysian officials through video conferencing in Beijing, China, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. A robotic submarine looking for the lost Malaysian jet continued its second seabed search on Wednesday as up to 14 planes were to take to the skies for some of the final sweeps of the Indian Ocean for floating debris from the ill-fated airliner. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A relative of Chinese passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines 370 waits in a room after walking out to protest the difficulties of communicating with Malaysian officials through video conferencing in Beijing, China, Wednesday, April 16, 2014. A robotic submarine looking for the lost Malaysian jet continued its second seabed search on Wednesday as up to 14 planes were to take to the skies for some of the final sweeps of the Indian Ocean for floating debris from the ill-fated airliner. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 chat before a meeting with officials from China's civil aviation at a hotel in Beijing, China Saturday, April 12, 2014. With no new underwater signals detected, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Saturday that the massive search for the Malaysian jet would likely continue "for a long time" as electronic transmissions from the dying black boxes were fading fast. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A woman, one of the relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 reacts during a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are near solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A man, center, one of the relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 takes a nap against the wall displaying messages of wishes for the passengers during a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are near solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A woman, one of the relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 shows her mobile phone displaying a photo of her father, who was aboard the missing plane near the wall displaying messages of wishes for the passengers at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are near solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave the conference room after they attending a briefing held by Malaysia officials at a hotel in Beijing, China Friday, April 11, 2014. Authorities are confident that signals detected deep in the Indian Ocean are from the missing Malaysian jet's black boxes, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday, raising hopes they are near solving one of aviation's most perplexing mysteries. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
AP10thingsToSee - Relatives of Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray during a candlelight vigil for their loved ones at a hotel in Beijing, China, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Feng Zhishang cries as family members mark the birthday of his son Feng Dong, a passenger onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at a hotel where relatives gather to wait for news of the missing plane in Beijing, China, Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Search crews have failed to relocate faint sounds heard deep in the Indian Ocean, possibly from the missing Malaysian jetliner's black boxes whose batteries are at the end of their life. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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PERTH, Australia (AP) - A Malaysian official met Sunday with relatives of passengers who were aboard the missing jetliner and discussed ways of providing them with financial assistance, as an unmanned submarine continued to search for any signs of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin met with the passengers' relatives in Kuala Lumpur to talk about where to go next. Financial assistance was discussed and family members were urged to submit a plan for consideration. He declined to elaborate further, but said a fund could possibly be set up by the government or Malaysia Airlines.

"We realize this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board," said Zainuddin, who heads a committee overseeing the needs of the next of kin. "No words can describe the pain they must be going through. We understand the desperate need for information on behalf of the families and those watching around the world."

He added that he would soon visit Beijing to shore up bilateral relations between Malaysia and China. Two-thirds of the missing plane's 227 passengers were Chinese, and many of their family members have been angered by Malaysia's handling of the investigation, with some accusing the government of lying, incompetence or participating in an outright cover-up.

After nearly a week of sweeping the bottom of the ocean with sonar, the unmanned sub began its eighth mission on Sunday. The yellow device has already covered about half of its focused search area, but has yet to uncover any clues that could shed light on the mysterious disappearance of the plane more than six weeks ago.

The U.S. Navy's Bluefin 21 has journeyed beyond its recommended depth of 4 1/2 kilometers (2.8 miles) to comb the silt-covered seabed off the coast of western Australia. Its search area forms a 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius around the location of an underwater signal that was believed to have come from the aircraft's black boxes. The search center said the sonar scan of the seafloor in that area was expected to be completed sometime next week.

On Saturday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein stressed the importance of the weekend submarine missions in the southern Indian Ocean, but stressed that even if no debris is recovered, the scope of the search may be broadened or other assets may be used.

Meanwhile on Sunday, up to 11 aircraft and 12 ships continued to scan the ocean surface for debris from the Boeing 777, which disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Radar and satellite data show the jet mysteriously veered far off course for unknown reasons and would have run out of fuel in the remote section of the southern Indian Ocean where the search has been focused. Not one piece of debris has been recovered since the massive multinational hunt began.

There have been numerous leads, but all have turned out to be false. The most promising development came when four underwater signals were detected April 5 and 8. The sounds were consistent with pings that would have been emanating from the plane's flight data and cockpit recorders' beacons before their batteries died.

The underwater operation is being complicated by the depth of the largely unexplored silt-covered sea floor. The unmanned submarine has gone beyond its recommended depth, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet. That could risk the equipment, but it is being closely monitored.

The search coordination center has said the hunt for floating debris on the surface will continue for at least the next few days, even though the Australian head of the search effort, Angus Houston, had earlier said it was expected to end sooner.

On Sunday, the visual surface search was to cover an estimated 48,507 square kilometers (18,729 square miles) of sea.

Malaysia: This Weekend Is Vital for Missing Plane's Search

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