Passenger's family blasts airline, authorities

Paul and Danica Weeks on their wedding day in November 2007.
Paul and Danica Weeks on their wedding day in November 2007.
Danica Weeks learned her husband Paul was dead via text message.

The New Zealand woman was one of many family members of those aboard flight MH370 who received the cold and matter-of-fact statement via her mobile phone.

"Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived," the message said.

It was a crippling blow for the mother of two young children who was desperately clinging on to hope that somehow, her husband might be still be alive somewhere.

For Mrs Weeks and the entire family, it summed up the "incredibly insensitive" and bungled handling of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 mystery by the authorities.

Danica Weeks is still too distraught to speak about what might have happened to her beloved husband, father of Lincoln, 3, and 11-month-old Jack.

But Mr Weeks' sister Sara has blasted authorities in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia Airlines.

"As a family we all feel the same way - the whole situation has just been extremely badly handled in every possible way that it could be," she said last night from Perth.

The text message left the family cold.

"It was just wrong, wrong on every level."

Sara Weeks cited withheld information, drip-fed updates, the devastating news delivered by text and the "incredibly insensitive" offer of $5000 compensation to grieving families while the Indian Ocean search went on as examples of of ways families had been let down.

The offer had no yet been discussed in the Weeks household.

"How can you compensate that kind of loss?" Sara asked.

It's that sort of gesture, along with how the whole event has unfolded, that she thinks legal action will happen down the line.

"Ultimately, it'll be something for Danica to decide as next of kin. But, on the face of it, it looks so bad for the Malaysian Government and Malaysia Airlines that I wouldn't be surprised if most people do join forces and attempt legal action over it."

Sara, whose 40th birthday passed in a blur of teary grief last week, said the family was fed up with how the disaster had been handled. The way Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had fronted press conferences and constantly changed the script had been especially galling for the Weeks family.

"Every time there's something different, they find something, and then they don't," Sara said.

She also queried the certainty with which the plane was unequivocally declared lost at sea with no survivors.

"Whilst the likelihood is that it's somewhere where they are looking, just the press statement itself was quite blunt and there was no evidence to back that up," Sara said.

"That's what all the families are struggling with."

Digging deep into her "generosity of heart", she believed that Malaysia Airlines had done its best to support the families.

But whether it was the sheer scale of the event, or through pure mismanagement, Sara said they had "failed miserably".

"They have really done an appalling job in keeping people up to date," she said.

"Both Danica and I have been horrified by the lack of information, the lack of updates, and the way they've been delivered."

The family are rallying around, leaning on each other for support. Many of them are in Perth, with Danica and her children.

Paul Weeks had moved his family there for a new start after the February 22, 2011 earthquake.

Danica's mother Kay Thompson was with her in Perth, helping with the kids, and getting through the days.

"Danica is holding up the best she can," Sara said.

- by Kurt Bayer

Add a Comment