Relatives of lost Malaysian flight left with fears but no news

‘My wife is crying . . . this is Allah’s will – we have to accept it,’ says relative at Kuala Lumpur airport

A relative of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries at a Beijing hotel where families gathered yesterday. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

A relative of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries at a Beijing hotel where families gathered yesterday. Photograph: Feng Li/Getty Images

Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 01:00

Above the din of jostling television crews and camera flashes, a shrill wailing could be heard from behind the double doors of the Metropark Lido hotel’s second-story ballroom.

More than 100 relatives of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished an hour into its Beijing-bound flight from Kuala Lumpur at 1.30am on Saturday, had been waiting in the room for more than 36 hours.

The few that ventured into the media scrum outside wore expressions of anxiety and despair. Some huddled in corners in the hotel’s atrium, quietly crying.

At one point, a young man approached journalists to ask for news; he said the airline hadn’t told him anything. One journalist asked him if he was a family member. “Yes – all my family is up there, except for me,” he replied, and burst into tears.

Zhang Zhilin, from the nearby metropolis Tianjin, sat in a stairway awaiting news of his 26-year-old cousin. “I don’t understand,” he told the Wall Street Journal . “We have all the technology in the world these days, and how is it that we can’t locate them?

As air and sea rescue teams broadened their search for the wreckage on Sunday, personal details of the 239 crew and passengers continued to emerge. According to a list released by the airline, the passengers came from 14 countries: there were 158 Chinese citizens, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, seven Australians, five Indians, four Americans, two New Zealanders and one Russian.The Chinese citizens included a group of Buddhists who had flown to Kuala Lumpur to participate in a religious event on March 2nd.

Cultural exchange
Also on board were 24 Chinese artists who had travelled to Kuala Lumpur for a cultural exchange exhibition. They included celebrated calligrapher Meng Gaosheng (64) and Memetjan Abra, an ethnic Uyghur painter from Xinjiang.

“He is a good painter, husband and father,” his wife Memetjan Abra told Xinhua, China’s state newswire.

Helene Conway-Mouret, the junior minister for French citizens abroad, confirmed there were four French passengers on the flight.

In Kuala Lumpur, Mohammad Lokman Hamid discovered his sister was on flight MH370 when he logged into Facebook this morning and saw a status update she had posted last night.

“I knew they’d been planning to go to Beijing for a holiday, especially after she suffered a miscarriage,” Hamid said of his sister Norli Akmar (33) and her husband Mohd Razahan Zamani (23).

“I’m terribly worried as too many speculations have been made about the incident. Some even say that the aircraft had issues with its global positioning system (GPS).”

Reporters at Kuala Lumpur international airport found Norli’s father, a police officer, waiting for news with many other families and friends of missing loved ones. Hamid Ramlan (56) said the family had spent the day grieving at their expected loss. “My wife is crying. Everyone is sad. My house has become a place of mourning,” he told AFP. “This is Allah’s will – we have to accept it. Being a policeman over 33 years, this is my worst day.”
– (Guardian service)