Shin Shin

Pic: AP.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia says China has postponed the transfer of two giant pandas out of respect for the families of passengers on missing Flight 370.

The plane with 239 people on board, 153 of them Chinese, disappeared March 8 while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

The pandas are gifts to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia and were due to arrive next Wednesday. But Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel says they are now expected before the end of May though no firm date is set.

Palanivel said Friday the delay was made to respect the families as the search for the plane reaches a crucial stage. Sounds detected in the southern Indian Ocean are suspected to be beacons on the jet’s black boxes.