It's been more than six weeks since Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared, but Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says he's still not ready to definitively declare that the 239 passengers and crew onboard are dead.
"At some point in time I would be, but right now I think I need to take into account the feelings of the next of kin -- and some of them have said publicly that they're not willing to accept it until they find hard evidence," Razak told CNN's Richard Quest this week.
Razak, however, conceded it's "hard to imagine" a different outcome at this point.
The prime minister's comments come just days after Malaysian government officials announced plans to issue death certificates for the people onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. At a Sunday press conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin said the government would also be providing financial assistance to the families of the missing, per Reuters. "We realize this is an excruciating time for the families of those on board," he said.
It's yet unclear as to whether Razak's recent comments about the plane's missing passengers and crew will impact these plans. However, CNN's Richard Quest says the prime minister's position on the issue may cause "enormous difficulties for Malaysia Airlines and others."
"Until the government officially says the plane is lost," Quest said, "full compensation cannot be paid [to the families of the missing] under the Montreal Convention."
Though Malaysia Airlines sent out text messages to the families of the missing last month saying that MH370 had been lost "beyond any reasonable doubt…and that none of those onboard survived," some relatives of passengers and crew have remained hopeful of their loved ones' survival.
"We couldn't find [the plane] in the sea and we couldn't find it on a land. It's only logical that they're alive," a relative of one of the passengers told Reuters.
Some family members have also expressed outrage that the Malaysian government would consider issuing death certificates before the plane is found.
“We want to [take] this investigation away from the Malaysian government. We believe it’s been mishandled,” Sarah Bajc, the girlfriend of a missing passenger, told NBC's "Today" earlier this week.