March 13, 2014
The agony of friends and relatives of travellers aboard a missing Malaysian airliner deepened as the mystery disappearance and the ongoing search for the plane dragged on.
"I don't know how much longer I should wait," Wan Tom Wan Chik, mother of 33-year-old Mohd Soufan Ibrahim, a passenger on the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, told reporters Monday at the Everly Hotel in Putrajaya.
Her son was one of 239 people aboard flight MH370, which vanished close to an hour into a scheduled trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday (March 8th).
According to Malaysia Airlines (MAS), the passengers included 38 Malaysians and citizens of at least a dozen other countries. Seven Indonesians were listed and many of their relatives flew to Kuala Lumpur courtesy of MAS, to receive updates from airline officials about the missing jet.
One of the seven was 25-year-old Firman Chandra Siregar, a former student at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) who works for a mining company in Beijing, his father Habor Siregar told Khabar Southeast Asia.
"We will keep praying for him and everyone else aboard MH370," he said. "We hope they are all found in a safe condition."
Another Indonesian on board was 47 year-old Lomr Sugianto, on his way to a vacation abroad, according to a friend.
"He told me that this is the time for him to take some time off after many years of hard work," Irwan Hernanto told Khabar by phone from Medan, Sumatra.
On Wednesday (March 12th), Malaysia Airlines issued a statement saying it had deployed teams of caregivers at locations in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, to help the families of the MH370 passengers and crew cope with the unfolding situation.
"We regret and empathise with the families and we will do whatever we can to ease their burden," the statement said. "We are as anxious as the families to know the status of their loved ones."
The search for the missing plane, last tracked off Malaysia's northeast coast, has expanded to encompass parts of the Gulf of Thailand, the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca and Malaysia's Andaman Sea Coast.
As of Wednesday, the hunt covered nearly 27,000 square nautical miles (over 90,000 square kilometres) and involved the navies and air forces of multiple nations, according to AFP.
"The search is on both sides. We will also continue our co-operation with neighbouring countries," Malaysian Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told reporters Monday in Kuala Lumpur.
Also Wednesday, India announced its coast guard joined the search, honing in on waters off the remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, AFP reported. Five Indians were listed on the MH370 manifest.
Indonesia contributed five warships and six reconnaissance aircraft to the hunt, according to Antara.