Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Flight MH370: Text message pain for family

Kiwi Paul Weeks' sister blasts insensitive handling of disaster.

Christchurch man Paul Weeks and Danica Weeks.
Christchurch man Paul Weeks and Danica Weeks.

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 on a 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 to hope that somehow, somewhere her husband might still be alive.

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.

Watch: MH370: Family members grieve

Danica Weeks is too distraught to talk about what may 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 the airline. "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."

Danica Weeks, who was married to Paul in November 2007, has been horrified by the lack of proper information about Flight MH370 from the airline.
Danica Weeks, who was married to Paul in November 2007, has been horrified by the lack of proper information about Flight MH370 from the airline.

Digging deep into her "generosity of heart", Sara Weeks believed Malaysia Airlines had done its best to support the families. But whether it was the sheer scale of the event or pure mismanagement, they had "failed miserably".

"They've really done an appalling job in keeping people up to date.

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

Ms Weeks cited withheld information, drip-fed updates, news delivered by text and the "incredibly insensitive" offer of US$5000 ($5800) compensation to grieving families while the Indian Ocean search went on as examples of how families had been let down.

The offer hadn't been discussed in the Weeks household. "How can you compensate that kind of loss?"

It's that kind of gesture, and how the whole event unfolded, that makes Ms Weeks think 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 I wouldn't be surprised if most people join forces and attempt legal action over it."


Paul Weeks' sister said Malaysia Airlines had "failed miserably". Photo / TV3

Ms Weeks, whose 40th birthday passed in a blur of teary grief last week, said the way Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had fronted news conferences and constantly changed the script had been especially galling for the family. "Every time there's something different, they find something then they don't."

She also queried the certainty with which the plane was declared lost at sea with no survivors. "While the likelihood is it's somewhere where they're looking, the press statement was quite blunt and there was no evidence to back it up. That's what the families are struggling with."

The wider family, many of whom are in Perth, are leaning on each other for support. Paul and Danica Weeks moved the family there after the February 2011 Christchurch quake.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 02 Oct 2014 19:29:16 Processing Time: 708ms