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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Chinese family of five among passengers on board flight MH370

Published on Mar 9, 2014 8:44 AM

BEIJING - More than 24 hours after a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane went missing, stories of Chinese nationals on board flight MH370 started to trickle through concerned friends, colleagues and families.

There was still no information on the location of the missing plane, MAS said early on Sunday.

"As of now, the search and the rescue team has yet to determine the whereabouts of the MH370," said the airline's spokesman at a press conference in Beijing.

He added that rescue teams have "failed to find evidence of any wreckage".

Malaysian Airlines Group chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya addresses the media near Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8, 2014. More than 24 hours after a Malaysia Airlines plane went missing, stories of Chinese nationals on board flight MH370 started to trickle through concerned friends, colleagues and families. -- PHOTO: AFP

The flight, a Boeing 777-200, lost contact with ground control at 1.20am on Saturday. On board were 227 passengers from 14 countries, including 154 Chinese, and 12 Malaysian flight crew.

A team of 93 staff from the airline arrived in Beijing late Saturday night. The spokesman said they are here mainly to take care of the relatives of those on board the missing flight. Once the whereabouts of the aircraft is determined, the airline will fly members of the families to the location, according to the spokesman.

As anxious relatives and friends await news of the missing plane, more details of those on board the fateful flight have emerged.

Among them was a Chinese family of five, with the youngest member Wang Moheng, who is 11 weeks away from his second birthday. The baby boy, travelling with his parents and grandparents, was supposed to have returned to Beijing from a vacation, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

The boy's father is a director at the Boston Consulting Group. His mother Jiao Weiwei, 32, used to work for an Internet company. A friend said Ms Jiao left her job not long time ago to take care of his son, because she could not bear to say goodbye to the boy when she had to go to work.

"She often said that she smells her baby from head to toe," recalled a former colleague of Ms Jiao. "People at the company really loved her."

A dozen of artists on an art exchange programme to Malaysia were also on the plane.

Mr Meng Gaosheng, a member of the Chinese calligraphy artist association, led a 24-member delegation for an art exchange programme on March 5 in Malaysia.

His calligraphy work were highly sought after by connoisseurs at local auctions in October, according to media reports.

Memetjan Abra is also among the dozen of artists aboard the plane. His wife Nur Guli told Xinhua that he spoke with her briefly on Friday night, before the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur.

"He is a good painter, husband and father," she said, adding that she would fly to Beijing on Sunday. The couple has a nine-year-old daughter.

Ms Zhang Meng, 28, works in All-China Federation of Trade Unions. She was on her way home from a business trip in Kuala Lumpur with her superior, according to her colleague. Ms Zhang got married last year and was planning to have a kid, Xinhua reported.

On her WeChat account, Ms Zhang said in November: "I wish myself and everyone to embrace the year of 2014 with warmth in their deep hearts. No matter in good times or bad, we may not put out the fire in our hearts."

Mr Wang Dongcheng, a professor at China Youth University for Political Sciences who arrived in Beijing on Saturday after a trip to Nepal, said on his twitter-like Sina Weibo account on Saturday that nine of his 22 travelling companions were aboard the missing plane.

"Three of them took a small plane with me and my wife to fly over Mount Qomolangma. They took a lot of nice photos for us. What a wrenching goodbye when we parted for our separate flights," Mr Wang said.

Chinese tech firm ZTE has also confirmed that one of its employee, Li Yanlin, was on the missing plane.

The company said it has set up a special team to actively engage with Li's family as well as with the airline and China's aviation authorities.

It added it is saddened by the incident and prayed for the safety of Li and all the others aboard.

Meanwhile, two warships from the Chinese navy, "Jinggangshan" and "Mianyang", were on their way to the area where the missing plane might have crashed, navy sources said.

Two helicopters, 30 medical personnel, 10 divers and 52 marines are also on board, Xinhua reported.