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MH17 victims' families to get US$5,000 as initial help

Malaysia Airlines said Monday it would make an initial payment of US$5,000 to families of passengers aboard its crashed flight MH17 as a goodwill gesture.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines said Monday it would make an initial payment of US$5,000 to families of passengers aboard its crashed flight MH17 as a goodwill gesture.

The national carrier said it would provide the money to each passenger's immediate family "as goodwill to ease... their economic needs".

"Funds have already been made available for this purpose," it said in a statement.

"This financial assistance will not be offset against the final compensation, nor affect the families' legal rights to claim."

The airline said it was also providing families with hotel accommodation, meals and transport assistance, in addition to counselling.

MH17 crashed over strife-torn eastern Ukraine on Thursday on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

It is believed to have been shot down by a missile. The United States has blamed separatist rebels and said they used a missile system supplied by Moscow.

It is the second ill-fated Malaysia Airlines plane this year after flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, carrying 239 people.

The jet, also a Boeing 777-200 like MH17, is believed to have veered off course and disappeared in the southern Indian Ocean.

Malaysia Airlines has been struggling financially for years, accumulating losses totalling US$1.3 billion over the past three years.

MH370's disappearance pulled down its first-quarter results. State fund Khazanah Nasional, which holds the airline's purse strings, said in June it would announce a turnaround plan within six to 12 months.

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