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Flight 370 passengers' families could collect millions of dollars through lawsuits

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(CNN) -  Malaysian airlines announced it's giving $5,000 dollars to the families of each flight 370 passenger. But those families could end up collecting millions of dollars.

Under an international treaty, the airline must pay relatives of each deceased passenger an initial sum of around $150 to $175,000. Relatives of victims can also sue for further damages. That is, unless the airline can prove that it took all necessary measures to prevent a crash.

An attorney who plans to file suit against Malaysia Airlines and Boeing believes that families could get between $400,000 and $3M dollars in damages, per passenger. And an aviation lawyer estimates some awards could be as large as $6 to $8M dollars.

One thing's missing from the official version of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, say some experts and family members: hard evidence.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said the missing plane's journey ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and that the conclusion was based on an analysis of satellite data by a British company and aviation investigation agency.

"We have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived," Malaysian Airlines told family members of the missing passengers.

The announcement drew howls of grief. But it also provoked skepticism.


Hundreds of friends and family members of passengers marched to the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing Tuesday to express their anger and frustration.

They claimed they weren't being told the truth by the Malaysian government about what happened to the plane after it disappeared from radar on March 8.

"If you find something: OK, we accept," said one relative of a passenger. "But nothing -- just from the data, just from analysis."

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