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Questions linger after somber announcement

By Zhao Lei, Cao Yin and Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-25 01:39

Although Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that flight MH370 has crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the fate of the plane.

The conclusion the Malaysian authorities reached was based on an analysis of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Inmarsat using satellite imagery, Wu Peixin, an aviation expert in Beijing, told China Daily on Monday.

"However, as far as I know, no one outside the two organizations and the Malaysian government has seen solid evidence such as parts of the aircraft's debris," he said.

"Is there any other evidence they can provide to the public or other nations' investigators? What exactly is their new analysis that was cited by the prime minister?"

Wu said he believes that the AAIB and Inmarsat have been working on imagery obtained by civilian satellites, rather than military ones, that have more reliable high-resolution pictures.

"In addition, the search operation for debris would take a long time because I don't think we have detailed and reliable hydrological data for many areas in that part of Indian Ocean," Wu said.

So even nations with advanced technology of maritime search such as the United States would have to use military aircraft to find traces of the possible debris.

Wu's opinion was shared by Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, who said there has been no clear evidence that the plane crashed.

The Malaysian government just announced the plane flew southward and crashed, but it didn't explain how they came to that conclusion, he said.

The current information should be analyzed by satellite specialists and confirmed by more countries involved in the search, said Song Xiaojun, a military commentator in Beijing.

The prime minister's announcement indicated the Malaysian government agreed with the AAIB's conclusion, which claimed the flight had crashed, he said.

Yin Zhuo, a military expert with the Chinese navy, said the final conclusion should be based on data from the plane's black box of the flight.

I don't think it's the final answer in the mystery of MH370. It's just the duty of the Malaysian government to announce the information as they find new search developments, Yin said.

Only after the search forces find debris in the ocean from the aircraft and retrieve the black box, can the final conclusion be made, he added.

Chinese insurers are expected to pay about 50 million yuan ($8.2 million) to families of the Chinese passengers on board MH370, according to statistics from major Chinese insurers.

Most of the Chinese passengers on the plane had purchased accident or life insurance policies, according to the country's major insurers.

Ping An Insurance was probably the hardest hit, with 50 passengers on the plane carrying the company's insurance policies, and the compensation is expected to be around 11.2 million yuan.

China Life has confirmed having 32 customers in the disaster, with the compensation expected to be close to 9 million.

By March 20, PICC Group had confirmed 19 passengers who purchased policies from its subsidiaries, with compensation reaching 12.45 million yuan.

China Pacific Life Insurance has confirmed 16 clients on the plane, with total compensation at about 5.44 million yuan. And Taikang confirmed 12 clients, with a total compensation of 4.49 million yuan.

The compensation for the airlines, however, differs depending on the reason for the crash. Further compensation from Malaysia Airlines depends on the reason for the disaster. If it is established that the disaster resulted from a mistake by the airline, the compensation could be huge, said Hao.

Families of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will receive full compensation from insurers even if the plane was hijacked or crashed because of a terrorist attack, industry analysts said on Monday.

According to Zhu Min, general manager of the clients' rights protection department at New China Life Insurance Co Ltd, insurers should pay the families of policyholders on board as long as they did not cause the damage themselves.

The cause of the crash hasn't been determined.

"If the plane was hijacked, the policyholders on board suffered unexpected injuries, which would be covered by insurers," Zhu said.

The missing airplane is covered by the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air. According to the convention, the airline and its insurers can be liable for compensation of $160,000 per passenger.

Hao Yansu, dean of the School of Insurance at the Central University of Finance and Economics, said if the accident was caused by a terrorist attack, some travel insurance policies may not apply.

"But the families of those who purchased life or accident policies would get compensation under any circumstances," Hao said.

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