5 yrs on, MH370 families band together to seek closure

A girl gets her face painted during the fourth annual remembrance event for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Five years ago, their loved ones boarded a plane and vanished.

The group of Malaysians meet about once a month - usually at a coffee shop or a home in Kuala Lumpur - to support each other and try to keep missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the public eye.

Their relatives were among the 239 people onboard the Boeing 777 when it vanished enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 and became the world's greatest aviation mystery.

Scraps of aircraft debris have washed up on the east African coastline, but two underwater searches in the southern Indian Ocean proved fruitless, leaving few clues as to what happened.

Starved for information and struggling to resume their lives, the families have come to lean on each other for support, said Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband Patrick Gomes was MH370's inflight supervisor.

"It goes beyond a group waiting for answers," said Gonzales, a 57-year-old kindergarten teacher who often hosts the group at her home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

"It has become a family as well, an extended family," she told Reuters.

For five years the group has campaigned to keep public attention on MH370 and help each other cope with their grief and try to live normal lives by returning to work, raising children and, in Gonzales' case, battle illness.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 for the second time in her life, but it has since gone into remission.

"When I first had cancer, I had my husband for support," she said.

"This second time, no. But I had a lot of family members around, my friends, my children, and now my MH370 families... so that kept us going."

In her living room hangs a painting of a blue-and-yellow field - a gift from Calvin Shim, another MH370 next-of-kin, to help her stay calm while recovering from surgery.

Shim, a father of two, said the group helped him to adjust to life as a single parent. His wife, Christine Tan, was a member of the MH370 crew.

"The other families know exactly how each of us feel," he said during a meeting at Gonzales' home.

"Emotionally, that's been a good support and help to us, especially since the plane has not been found," he added.

"WE HAVE NOT SAID GOODBYE"

In early 2017, Malaysia, China and Australia called off a two-year, $144 million search in the southern Indian Ocean after finding no trace of the plane.

A second three-month search north of the original target area, led by U.S. exploration firm Ocean Infinity, ended similarly in May 2018.

A 495-page report published in July said the Boeing 777 was likely deliberately taken off course but investigators were unable to determine who was responsible.

The Malaysian government has said it would consider resuming a search if new evidence came to light.

Not knowing what happened in the aircraft's final moments has made closure "impossible", Gonzales said.

"When friends tell me that their spouses have passed away, I get very jealous because they have closure," she said.

"They've said goodbye. But for us, we've not said goodbye at all."

 

FACTBOX: WHAT HAPPENED TO MH370?

UNDERWATER SEARCH

Malaysia, Australia and China launched an underwater search in a 120,000 sq km (46,332 sq miles) area in the southern Indian Ocean based on the satellite data.

The search, which cost about A$200 million ($143 million), was called off after two years in January 2017 with no traces of the plane found.

Last year, Malaysia accepted a "no-cure, no-fee" offer from U.S. exploration firm Ocean Infinity for a three-month search, meaning the company would only get paid if it found the plane.

That search covered 112,000 sq km (43,243 square miles) north of the original target area and also proved fruitless, ending in May 2018.

DEBRIS

More than 30 pieces of suspected aircraft debris have been collected along the Indian Ocean coastline, but only three wing fragments were confirmed to be from MH370.

Most of the debris were used in drift pattern analysis in the hopes of narrowing down the aircraft's possible location.

INVESTIGATION REPORT

A 495-page report into MH370's disappearance, published in July 2018, said the Boeing 777's controls were likely deliberately manipulated to take it off course, but investigators could not determine who was responsible.

The report also highlighted mistakes made by the Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control centres and issued recommendations to avoid a repeat incident.

Investigators stopped short of offering any conclusions about what happened to MH370, saying that depended on finding the plane's wreckage.

NEW SEARCH?

The Malaysian government has said it will consider resuming the search only when credible new evidence is found.

Families of those onboard the plane have urged authorities to consider offering a reward, launch a new search, or accept other offers from private companies to find MH370.

 

Liked the story?

  • 2

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 1

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 1

    Angry

Comments:

5 yrs on, MH370 families band together to seek closure

0 comments

Write the first review for this !