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Families still struggling six months later: MH370

Sept. 8, 2014, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - The lives of the families with loved ones on Malaysian Airlines flight MH730 have been in limbo since the fateful morning of March 8, when the plane and the 239 aboard disappeared.


September 8, 2014
By CBC News

Not knowing the fate of the people who were on the Boeing 777 plane has
has made it impossible for their families to move forward.

Zhang Mei Ling became one of the faces of the grieving families after
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the search had moved from
rescue to recovery of the bodies of those who were on the plane that had
left Kuala Lumpur and was headed for Bejiing.

 

The plane disappeared after losing contact with air traffic
control less than an hour after takeoff, triggering an intense search
effort that started in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, and
soon extended to other bodies of water.

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Zhang firmly believed her daughter, Xiaomo Bai, and
son-in-law, Muktesh Mukherjee, both Canadian citizens, were alive. The
couple lived in Montreal a number of years ago, before moving to
Chicago and then Beijing.

 

Zhang screamed to the hundreds of cameras, "My child isn't dead, but being hidden by people somewhere we don't know." 

 

She, like other family members of the 154 Chinese nationals on
board, would repeat an old saying: "If they are alive I need to see
them; if they are dead, I need to see the body."

 

Zhang still sits in her living room and writes messages to her
daughter, with photos of the couple quietly staring back at her as she
types. She still holds out hope that her 37-year-old daughter will
return her messages.  

 

"I write that I miss her and I'm asking where she is," Zhang said.

 

"I firmly believe they are alive," she added. "I think they are being held hostage now."

 

Zhang provided live in care for the missing couple's two young boys,
but it was eventually decided to have the children leave Beijing and
continue their schooling while living with their paternal grandparents
in England.

 

"I almost went crazy at that time," she said. "I couldn't really
accept the fact that both kids suddenly left me. I [still] can't really
accept it, but I have to continue my own life."

 

Zhang's sister has been her rock amid all the tumult.

 

"Without her I wouldn't be alive now," she said.

 

Still, she maintains hope, praying and lighting incense at the local temple.

 

"I don't ask too much. I just hope that they could come back early.
During this six months, it's been this belief that supports me."

Beijing resident Steve Wang, 25, is trying to continue with his life
six months after his mother took the doomed flight. He has never
released her name.

 

"I'm trying to get back to work, but I know I can't totally get back
to it," he said. "Every time I try, I just can't concentrate on other
things, other things not related to MH370."

 

Wang was at first reluctant to speak to the media, but eventually
took on the role of speaking on behalf of the victims of the modern air
mystery. For weeks on end, he was interviewed live on a number of
national television networks, and was quoted in newspapers on every
continent.

 

Now, he says, interviews are "once a week or once every two weeks,"
as other stories have come to dominate international headlines.

 

"I knew it would happen sooner or later because to most people, it's
just news," said Wang. "It's not like that for us. I really hope there
are more people, more media that will keep doing something with it."

 

Wang, like many relatives of the passengers, is unconvinced that the
plane is anywhere near where the current search is located in the Indian
Ocean.  

 

"I think it's ridiculous from the beginning," he said. "They said
they are confident that they are searching in the right place."
 
Wang thinks there are clues in the investigation that should be pursued,
and that some of the millions of dollars being spent searching the
bottom of the Indian Ocean would be better spent on an independent
investigation not run by the Malaysian government.  

 

"I don't believe the Malaysian government has the capability to do
[an investigation]," he said. "From the beginning, they don't know how
to handle it."

 

Wang said he and the other family members who lost people on MH370
feel powerless. He hopes for some kind of closure, but doesn't know when
it will happen.

 

"I think it will be found, but it will take a long time," he said. "I
don't know if  it'll be 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years or whether
during my life they'll find it. But it will be found."