UK
01/05/2014 16:19 BST | Updated 01/05/2014 16:59 BST

MH370: Relatives Told To Go Home As Search For Malaysian Airlines Flight 'Enters New Phase'

The relatives of those aboard the missing flight MH370 have been told to go home, after the airline said it would close the hotel support centres where they have been receiving daily updates.

Malaysia Airlines said on Thursday it would soon close the hotel support centres where relatives of missing passengers have gathered since shortly after the plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard.

Family members at Beijing's Lido Hotel cried when officials urged them to return home, it has been reported.

The airline said that daily briefings would no longer take place for the relatives as the search for the missing airline was entering a "new phase", CNN reported.

mh370 hotel

Malaysia Airlines has been giving daily briefings to relatives but has now told them to go home

The broadcaster reported that one person yelled "What can we do?" and another shouted "Who will find our family members?" while others kneeled in front of police who had assembled in the hotel briefing room.

The centres will close on May 7.

In a statement provided to the BBC, the airline said: "Despite such an intensified search operation, probably the largest one in human history, we have to face the hard reality that there is still no trace of the aircraft, and the fate of the missing passengers and crew remains unknown.

"Malaysia Airlines is acutely conscious of, and deeply sympathetic to the continuing unimaginable anguish, distress and hardship suffered by those with loved ones on board the flight.

"Instead of staying in hotels, the families of MH370 are advised to receive information updates on the progress of the search and investigation and other support by Malaysia Airlines within the comfort of their own homes, with the support and care of their families and friends."

On Thursday, a report was also published which showed officials waited four hours after the plane was reported missing before launching a rescue effort, according to CNN.

The revelation came in a preliminary report on the plane's disappearance from Malaysia's Transport Ministry.