UK & World News

  • 10 March 2014, 10:29

Missing Malaysia Plane: 'We Won't Give Up Hope'

The brother of one of the passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines flight has said he will "not give up hope", despite a warning from officials to expect the worst.

Tom Wood's brother Philip was among three Americans on board flight MH370 when it disappeared between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

"I'm reminded not to give up hope," he said. "You never know. I'm not going to close that door until we need to close it completely."

Also on board the Boeing 777-200 was Paul Weeks, a New Zealander who survived the devastating earthquake in Christchurch in 2011.

His wife Danica said their young son had planned to speak to his father on Skype when he landed in China and had a map on his wall, plotting where he was due to be.

"He's with his friend at the moment," Mrs Weeks said. "It's just too hard. It's too big a bridge to cross at this stage."

She added: "Our children are Paul's legacy and I think, looking forward, in the worst case scenario, I've just got to focus on them."

Many of the 239 passengers on the plane were from China, where a group of families have signed a statement, demanding Malaysia Airlines "publicise the truth" about what happened to the plane.

The have also called on the Chinese government to pay more attention to the case.

Daniel Liau, a colleague of acclaimed Chinese calligrapher Meng Gaosheng, who was on the flight with 18 other artists, six family members and four staff, said he could "only pray for a miracle".

"I feel very sad," he added. "Even though I knew them for a short time, they have become my friends."

Some relatives plan to fly to Kuala Lumpur to search for information about their loved ones but others do not want to travel.

Wang Aihua, the mother of missing Cheng Xudong, said: "Of course I am not going to get a passport. What for? To go to Malaysia to do what? To stare at the sea?"

For Australian grandparents Robert Lawton and his wife, Catherine, the flight was the beginning of another adventure.

"They mentioned in passing they were going on another big trip and they were really excited," one of their neighbours told ABC Australia.

Sharing their adventure was another Australian couple, Rodney and Mary Burrows.

Neighbour Don Stokes said the trip was to be the start of the "next step in their life".

Also on board were teenage sweethearts Hadrien Wattrelos and Zhao Yan, students at a French school in Beijing who were returning from a two-week holiday with Hadrien's mother and younger sister.

Under Zhao's Facebook picture of her and Hadrien he had commented "Je t'aime" followed by a heart, and she had "liked" his comment.

While expecting the worst, colleagues of Indian passenger Chandrika Sharma remained optimistic.

"There must still be hope," said one. "She was friendly and very loveable, very industrious and astute. We will miss her."

For Firman Chandra Siregar, from Indonesia, the flight was a new chapter. In Beijing, he was about to begin a new contract with an oil company.

Tearful relatives and neighbours gathered at his family's home, praying or watching news of the search operation, while at the same time realising there is little hope of him being found alive.

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