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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: More than 38 hours later, fears grip families of 239 on MH370

Published on Mar 9, 2014 5:07 PM
 

Hug and kisses are usually given freely to loved ones as they pass through arrival gates at airports. It should never have to be tears of sorrow and despair to learn that these loved ones have gone missing.

As early as of 6.30am on Saturday, hundreds of family and friends of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, have been kept in anticipation if their loved ones would arrive, safely.

There are fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends and old friends.

Hours before 239 passengers boarded the fateful flight MH370 bound for Beijing, some of them had posted updates on social media platforms of their homecoming.

Relatives comforts Erlina Panjaitan (second left) and Risman Siregar (left), parents of Firman Chandra Siregar, a 24 year-old passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 that went missing on March 8, are conforted by friends in Medan on March 9, 2014. Hug and kisses are usually given freely to loved ones as they pass through arrival gates at airports. It should never have to be tears of sorrow and despair to learn that these loved ones have gone missing. -- PHOTO: AFP

MH270 flight path

Chinese student Yue Wenchao, 26, who was studying in England, had gone to visit his girlfriend in Malaysia.

An hour before he boarded the flight, he posted a photo of his girlfriend on microblogging site Weibo.

"See u in Beijing!" wrote Mr Yue.

More than 36 hours have passed, Mr Yue still has not reached home, when the journey usually takes just about six hours.

Two days before Mr Wang Yonghui was heading home after having been separated from his family for a year, he called his wife in Hebei to inform her of his homecoming.

"He asked if I wanted him to bring anything home, I didn't think there was anything lacking at home, the only thing missing was him," Madam Xue Ya Lian told Beijing News.

Mr Wang had left left home to work in Singapore a year ago. He earned about $1,800 a month for his work with a construction firm, said his wife.

At 9.45pm on Friday, less than three hours before Mr Wang boarded the flight, his wife had sent a message to ask his whereabouts, but he did not reply.

"He must be busy with the checking in," she thought.

At about 3pm on Saturday, while waiting for updates on the flight that her husband was on, Madam Xue sent her husband three more messages - "Where are you?", "Please reply!" and "We are in Beijing!"

Mr Wang and 226 other passengers including two infants and 12 crew members were due to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am on Saturday. The flight carrying people from 14 countries and Taiwan on board, the majority of whom are Chinese nationals and Malaysians, departed from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia just about midnight. The plane lost radar contact 50 minutes after take-off. No distress signal nor bad weather were reported, with it last approximate position at 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru, in the South China Sea, in the airspace bordering Vietnam.

As of Sunday morning, Singapore has sent more military planes and ships to help in the six-country search for the Malaysia Airlines plane. US media reported that FBI is sending agents and technical experts to assist a team probing the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jet that had several Americans aboard.

Despite the massive deployment of aircrafts and vessels to search for the missing plane, the fate of the 239 lives onboard is still unknown.

As loved ones wait for updates on the plane's status, chances of survival seem to grow slimmer with the passing of every minute.

Among the passengers were Chinese painters, academics, students and businessmen.

Madam Han Jing, whose sister was on the fateful flight, told the Chinese media yesterday that she has not been able to break the news to her elderly parents who had learned about the missing plane on TV. She had told them that her sister had gone to Thailand.

A day before, Mr Zhang Jianwu, 31, had replied a post on Weibo asking his whereabouts.

"You guess?" wrote Mr Zhang.

joycel@sph.com.sg

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