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Missing Malaysia Plane: Passengers, Crew On Board

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There were 12 crew and 227 passengers on the Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared about 40 minutes into a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8. They were from far-flung parts of the world: 14 nationalities that included New Zealanders, Iranians, Americans and Indonesians. Two thirds of the passengers were from China. These are the stories of some of those on board.


The flight's pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had more than 18,000 hours of flight experience. People who knew Zaharie from his involvement in opposition political circles in Malaysia and other areas of his life described him as sociable, humble, caring and dedicated to his job.

His Facebook page showed an aviation enthusiast who built his own flight simulator at home and flew remote-controlled aircraft, posting pictures of his collection, which included a lightweight twin-engine helicopter and an amphibious aircraft.

Born in northern Penang state, the captain and grandfather was an enthusiastic handyman and proud home cook. As part of what he called "community service," he had posted several YouTube videos including how to make air conditioners more efficient to cut electricity bills, how to waterproof window panes, and how to repair a refrigerator icemaker.

"Likes" and other activity on Zaharie's YouTube account showed approval of atheist views, an unusual admission in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.


Described by the imam of his local mosque as a "good boy" and by neighbors as pious, co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid was dubbed a playboy by foreign media after the revelation he and another pilot invited two women boarding their aircraft to sit in the cockpit for an international flight in 2011. During the journey, the pilots smoked and flirted, one of the women, South African Jonti Roos, said in an interview broadcast by Australia's Nine Network.

Fariq, 27, was filmed recently by a crew from "CNN Business Traveler," and reporter Richard Quest described the experience as a perfect landing of a Boeing 777-200, the same model as the plane that vanished. An online tribute page to the pilots shows a photo of Fariq in the cockpit with Quest, both smiling.

Fariq, however, was new to the 777 and had 2,763 flight hours overall.

Neighbor Ayop Jantan said he had heard that Fariq was engaged and planning his wedding. The eldest of five children, Fariq's professional achievements were a source of pride for his father, Ayop said.


Chemistry lecturer Kranti Shirsath was on her way to North Korea via Beijing to visit her husband Prahlad, who was close to completing a three-year contract with nonprofit group Concern Worldwide. She was planning to help him pack for the move home to India, where she lived with the couple's two sons in the western city of Pune.

Over the past 17 years, the couple lived in many countries, including Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as Prahlad took assignments with different NGOs. But she stayed behind with the children when he took up the post in North Korea's capital Pyongyang.

Prahlad was among family members who traveled to Kuala Lumpur after hearing that the plane had gone missing. After spending four fruitless days in Kuala Lumpur, Prahlad has returned to Pune to be with his sons.

"Apart from no news of the aircraft, what is even more painful are the conspiracy theories," Prahlad Shirsath told reporters in Pune.


Prize-winning calligrapher Meng Gaosheng, 64, was leading a delegation of two dozen artists to Malaysia for a three-day exhibition titled "The China Dream, An Ode to Colors."

Meng's works are among the collections on display in major tourist spots in Beijing such as Mao Zedong's memorial hall and mausoleum and the Great Hall of the People.

In Kuala Lumpur, Meng spent most of his time with the artists at the exhibition. On the day before their departure, however, the artists toured well-known sites in the city that included the royal palace and the Petronas Twin Towers, which are Malaysia's tallest buildings.

According to Xu Lipu, an artist who was on the trip but took another flight back to China, Meng was a knowledgeable artist and was happy to share his thoughts on artistic theory with the others. Meng was always encouraging the other artists by praising them and their work, Xu said.


Wang Linshi, 69, worked for the Chinese government in the eastern city of Nanjing until he retired, but his passion was painting, in particular chickens and roosters, according to son Wang Zhen. The elder Wang was traveling with Meng Gaosheng's group.

"I remember that when I was a child, my father raised chickens to watch how they behave in order to draw them," Wang Zhen said.

Wang Linshi's wife Xiong Deming, 63, also traveled with the group. Wang Zhen described his mother as sweet and thoughtful, someone who was always looking out for him and was also kind to his new wife.

Wang Zhen, an engineer, said that since he got married a year ago, his parents have made it their mission to encourage him and his wife to have a child.

"They have wanted us to bear them a grandchild. They didn't care if the child was a boy or a girl, as long as they had a grandchild," said Wang.

The last time he heard from his father was when they exchanged mobile text messages when his father was at Kuala Lumpur's international airport. Wang had messaged his father to ask him how things were going. "The trip was quite successful. We'll be back tomorrow evening. A bit too busy to talk now," was Wang's reply.


Philip Wood's family saw him in Texas before what was meant to be his last work trip to China as an executive for IBM. The 50-year-old Wood had recently earned his certification for scuba diving, one of the ways in which he satisfied his craving for adventure.

Wood's family continues to track the twists and turns of the investigation at home in Keller, Texas, a suburb of Dallas-Fort Worth. His youngest brother, James, said on Monday that the family continues to pray, though they are realistic about Philip's chances.

"Our faith isn't that he's going to come back home safe, even though that's what we're hoping for," James Wood said. "Our faith is everything is going to be OK."

Wood had been working in Beijing for the past two years and was making his last work trip to China, via Kuala Lumpur.

James Wood said his brother was an adventurous person who loved to travel and see new places, one of the things he loved about his job. He was divorced and has two grown children, one of whom attends Texas A&M University.

"I can honestly say he's one person who's lived his life to the fullest," said James Wood.


Maimaitijiang Abula, a 34-year-old art teacher from China's far west Xinjiang region, home to China's Turkic-speaking Uighur ethnic minority, was abroad for the first time and part of the group of painters and calligraphers in Malaysia for an exhibition.

His close friend, Yimamu'aishanjiang, told the Chinese magazine Nanfang People Weekly that the artist had confided in him that he aspired to be a master at painting in the style of realism.

Maimaitijiang was overjoyed by the accolades he received in Malaysia: he won an award, was interviewed by a Malaysian TV station and had one of his paintings curated by a gallery, the friend told the magazine.

Another friend Aiyin Abudu told the magazine that Maimaitijiang began drawing at age 6 and wishes that "the whole world can know about Xinjiang through his works."

Moments before he boarded flight 370, Maimaitijiang called his friend Yimamu'aishanjiang. "How are you guys?" Maimaitijiang asked.

"We are all at the school, waiting for your return," the friend said.


Paul Weeks, a 39-year-old mechanical engineer and New Zealand national was on his way to a new job in Mongolia. He planned to return as often as possible to his home in the Western Australia city of Perth, where he left his wife and two young sons.

Before he left, he handed his wedding ring and watch to his wife, Danica, for safekeeping, and told her to pass it down to his two sons, 3-year-old Lincoln and 11-month-old Jack, should anything happen to him.

Danica Weeks said Tuesday that she was "surviving," but was too upset to say anything further.

In a Facebook post the day after the plane vanished, she wrote: "in a place I never wanted to be, trying to gather strength for my two beautiful boys, miss my darling with all my heart."

Paul Weeks was interviewed by New Zealand's The Press newspaper in 2012 about his decision to move his family to Australia from the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, which was devastated by an earthquake the previous year.

"I consider our move to Australia to be one of necessity, rather than by choice, as we were content starting a family in Christchurch," Weeks told The Press.


Mohamad Khairul Amri Selamat, 29, an aviation engineer with a private jet charter company and father of a 15-month-old daughter, was traveling to Beijing for work. His presence on the flight has drawn scrutiny after Malaysian authorities said they believed the plane's course change and the severing of automated communications were deliberate.

Mohamed Khairul had recently moved into a new house in a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur and his family was planning to visit him this month when he returned from Beijing, said his father Selamat Omar.

Khairul called his father on the evening of March 6 to let him know about the trip and ask about his health as Selamat said he is diabetic.

"People can talk but I know my son. It is impossible for him to be involved in something like this," Selamat said. "I am praying hard that the plane didn't crash and he will be back soon."


Chandrika Sharma always called her mother twice before traveling.

The first call is to tell her about the trip and to ask if she needed anything. The second call is to say she was at the airport and getting ready to fly.

"This time too, Chandrika called me before leaving to remind me to take my medicines," said 88-year-old Shakuntala Sharma, recalling her last conversation with her daughter late on Mar. 7 before the flight took off.

An NGO worker who was director of the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers, Chandrika was en route to Mongolia for a conference. Chandrika had always been concerned with the "poor and the powerless in society," her mother said

She is married with a daughter, a university student studying in the Indian capital.

Chandrika's husband, K.S. Narendran, a management consultant in Chennai, puzzled over how the plane could have simply vanished.

"One is left with a creeping suspicion that there is more to it than what is being shared. And if that is the case, whose interests are being served?"


Associated Press researchers Fu Ting in Shanghai and Zhao Liang in Beijing and AP writers Gillian Wong and Didi Tang in Beijing, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Nirmala George in New Delhi, Nomaan Merchant in Dallas, Stephen Wright in Bangkok and Jim Gomez and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia contributed.

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The Wall Street Journal reports on a potential clue in the plane investigation:

A “partial ping” received eight minutes after a final complete transmission between Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and an orbiting satellite began on the missing jet, in the latest clue that could help investigators unravel what happened to the jet before it stopped flying.

The final partial transmission from the missing Boeing Co. 777-200ER, which disappeared from civilian radar on March 8, “originates with the aircraft for reasons not understood,” said Chris McLaughlin, senior vice president of Inmarsat PLC, which operates the satellite.

Read the full story here.

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Chicago-based law firm Ribbeck Law Chtd., representing the father of a passenger on MH370, filed a request in Illinois state court on Tuesday seeking Malaysia Airlines and Boeing's records on the missing plane, Bloomberg reports.

Januari Siregar, father of passenger Firman Chandra Siregar, has requested 26 types of data, including information about the maintenance of the jet, the crew's training, and any cargo on board, according to the report.

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Wired explains that U.S. Navy underwater microphones may be essential to the MH370 search now that authorities are looking in an area of the southern Indian Ocean in places as deep as 23,000 feet.

From Wired:

The 70-pound tow fish, which is formally known in true Pentagon style as Towed Pinger Locator 25, is a hydrodynamic microphone designed specifically to listen for the acoustic signal of the data and cockpit voice recorders carried aboard all commercial and military aircraft. It can track the devices to depths of 20,000 feet.

The U.S. has deployed a pair of tow fish to a Royal Australian Navy Rescue Ship, which will drag them through the search area looking for pings from the missing plane's flight data recorder, according to Wired.

Read the full report here.

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The Washington Post reports that Chinese officials are concerned that relatives grieving the disappearance of flight MH370 could redirect their anger from Malaysia onto China.

From The Washington Post:

At a meeting of provincial officials last week, according to people who were in the room, they discussed preventing a larger movement from forming out of the passengers’ families.

While the families' outrage and frustration is genuinely targeted at Malaysian authorities, China is taking care to make sure it stays that way, the Post notes.

At a rare-sanctioned protest at the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on Tuesday, plainclothes men who did not appear to be family members came to rally the protesters, according to the Post:

In the meantime, in one bus, a man with a loudspeaker prepared the relatives. “We don’t have any contradictions with the Chinese government, right?” he yelled into the loudspeaker, waiting for them to yell back “right!” “We don’t have any contradictions with the media, right?”

Read the full story here.

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Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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From the Associated Press:

Malaysia Airlines says it is providing comprehensive support for the families of the 239 people aboard Flight 370.

FOOD AND LODGING: Hotel, transportation, meals and other expenses have been provided for up to five family members per passenger since the flight disappeared March 8, and the airline intends to continue the support as long as families require it.

FINANCIAL HELP: The airline provided US,000 per passenger to the next of kin initially and will offer more payments as the search for the jetliner continues.

ROUND-THE-CLOCK CARE: It has assigned more than 700 caregivers — including two per family — to offer support and counseling to families on a 24-hour basis.

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When Malaysia Airlines Flight #370 disappeared on March 8, it carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members. The youngest passenger was 2-year-old Yan Zhang, the oldest was 79-year-old Baotang Lou.

Click here to view the entire passenger/crew manifest.

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By: Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof, Chairman of Malaysia Airlines

As you will be aware, last night the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najjib Razak, announced new evidence regarding the disappearance of MH370 on 8th March.

Based on this evidence, the Prime Minister’s message was that we must accept the painful reality that the aircraft is now lost and that none of the passengers or crew on board survived.

This is a sad and tragic day for all of us at Malaysia Airlines. While not entirely unexpected after an intensive multi-national search across a 2.24 million square mile area, this news is clearly devastating for the families of those on board. They have waited for over two weeks for even the smallest hope of positive news about their loved ones.

This has been an unprecedented event requiring an unprecedented response. The investigation still underway may yet prove to be even longer and more complex than it has been since March 8th. But we will continue to support the families – as we have done throughout. And to support the authorities as the search for definitive answers continues. I will now ask our Group Chief Executive¸ Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, to provide you will with fuller details of our support for the families.

By: Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Group Chief Executive Officer, Malaysia Airlines

I stand before you today not only as the Group Chief Executive Officer of Malaysia Airlines, but also as a parent, as a brother, as a son. My heart breaks to think of the unimaginable pain suffered by all the families. There are no words which can ease that pain. Everyone in the Malaysia Airlines family is praying for the 239 souls on MH370 and for their loved ones on this dark day. We extend our prayers and sincere condolences.

We all feel enormous sorrow and pain. Sorrow that all those who boarded Flight MH370 on Saturday 8th March, will not see their families again. And that those families will now have to live on without those they love. It must be remembered too that 13 of our own colleagues and fellow Malaysians were also on board.

And let me be very clear on the events of yesterday evening. Our sole and only motivation last night was to ensure that in the incredibly short amount of time available to us, the families heard the tragic news before the world did. Wherever humanly possible, we did so in person with the families or by telephone, using SMS only as an additional means of ensuring fully that the nearly 1,000 family members heard the news from us and not from the media.

Ever since the disappearance of Flight MH370 Malaysia Airlines’ focus has been to comfort and support the families of those involved and support the multi-national search effort. We will continue to do this, while we also continue to support the work of the investigating authorities in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Like everyone else, we are waiting for news from those authorities. We know that while there have been an increasing number of apparent leads, definitive identification of any piece of debris is still missing. It is impossible to predict how long this will take. But after 17 days, the announcement made last night and shared with the families is the reality which we must now accept. When Malaysia Airlines receives approval from the investigating authorities, arrangements will be made to bring the families to the recovery areas if they so wish. Until that time, we will continue to support the ongoing investigation. And may I express my thanks to the Government and all of those involved in this truly global search effort.

In the meantime, Malaysia Airlines’ overwhelming focus will be the same as it has been from the outset – to provide the families with a comprehensive support programme. Through a network of over 700 dedicated caregivers, the loved ones of those on board have been provided with two dedicated caregivers for each family, providing care, support and counsel. We are now supporting over 900 people under this programme and in the last 72 hours, we have trained an additional 40 caregivers to ensure the families have access to round-the-clock support.

In addition, hotel accommodation for up to five family members per passenger, transportation, meals and others expenses have been provided since 8th March and that will continue.

Malaysia Airlines has already provided initial financial assistance of USD 5,000 per passenger to the next of kin. We recognize that financial support is not the only consideration. But the prolonged search is naturally placing financial strain on the relatives. We are therefore preparing to offer additional payments as the search continues.

This unprecedented event in aviation history has made the past 18 days the greatest challenge to face our entire team at Malaysia Airlines. I have been humbled by the hard work, dedication, heartfelt messages of concern and offers of support from our remarkable team. We do not know why, and we do not know how this terrible tragedy happened. But as the Malaysia Airlines family, we are all praying for the passengers and crew of Flight MH370.

For past statements, click here.

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Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya was asked at a press conference whether he would resign following the disappearance of Flight #370. Yahya said it was a personal decision, and one he would make at a later date, Reuters reported.

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Malaysia Airlines CEO said Tuesday during a press conference, "We do not know why. We do not know how. We do not know why this terrible tragedy happened."

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An Australian official said Tuesday in a press conference: "We're not looking for a needle in a haystack, we're still trying to define where the haystack is."

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Australia's Defense Minister said Tuesday that at this point, no debris has been successfully identified or recovered.

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AFP reports that relatives of Chinese passengers are marching in protest to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing seeking information about the crash:

Around 200 family members, some in tears, linked arms and shouted slogans including "The Malaysian government are murderers" and "We want our relatives back".

The embassy is about four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the Lido Hotel, where meetings have been taking place throughout the drama.

Read more here.

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China wants to know how Malaysia drew the conclusion that the plane was lost with no survivors, AP reports:

China's official Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng as telling the Malaysian ambassador to Beijing that China wanted to know the specific facts that led Malaysia to announce Monday night that the plane had been lost.

Read more here.

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From Reuters:

Britain's Inmarsat used a wave phenomenon discovered in the 19th century to analyze the seven pings its satellite picked up from Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 to determine its final destination.

The new findings led Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to conclude on Monday that the Boeing 777, which disappeared more than two weeks ago, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean, killing all 239 people on board.

The pings, automatically transmitted every hour from the aircraft after the rest of its communications systems had stopped, indicated it continued flying for hours after it disappeared from its flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

From the time the signals took to reach the satellite and the angle of elevation, Inmarsat was able to provide two arcs, one north and one south that the aircraft could have taken.

Inmarsat's scientists then interrogated the faint pings using a technique based on the Doppler effect, which describes how a wave changes frequency relative to the movement of an observer, in this case the satellite, a spokesman said.

The Doppler effect is why the sound of a police car siren changes as it approaches and then overtakes an observer.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch was also involved in the analysis.

"We then took the data we had from the aircraft and plotted it against the two tracks, and it came out as following the southern track," Jonathan Sinnatt, head of corporate communications at Inmarsat, said.

The company then compared its theoretical flight path with data received from Boeing 777s it knew had flown the same route, he said, and it matched exactly.

The findings were passed to another satellite company to check, he said, before being released to investigators on Monday.

The paucity of data - only faint pings received by a single satellite every hour or so - meant techniques like triangulation using a number of satellites or GPS (Global Positioning System) could not be used to determine the aircraft's flight path.

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Searchers are racing to find the plane's black boxes, AP reports:

By law, the boxes must be able to send those signals for at least 30 days following a crash. But experts say they can continue making noise for another 15 days or so beyond that, depending upon the strength of the black box battery at the time of the crash.

Without the black boxes — the common name for the voice and data recorders normally attached to a fuselage — it would be virtually impossible for investigators to definitively say what caused the crash.

Read the full story here.

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From HuffPost:

The text message immediately set off a firestorm, with many on the Internet quick to criticize the airliner for not reaching out to relatives by more appropriate means.

In reality, the decision to text the families may not be as egregious as it seems.

MH370 families have chided Malaysia Airlines, as well as Malaysian government authorities, in part because the news media has continuously received new information about the missing plane before the families over the past two weeks.

Read the rest here.

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From Reuters:

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told Malaysia's ambassador in Beijing on Monday that China was demanding Malaysia hand over all relevant satellite data analysis on the missing Malaysian airliner, the Foreign Ministry said.

Xie met the ambassador after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, citing new satellite data, said Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared over two weeks ago en route to Beijing, crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Boeing is saddened by today's announcement by the prime minister of Malaysia regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to be with the families and loved ones of those aboard. Boeing continues to serve as a technical advisor to the U.S. National Transportation Board.

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Inmarsat, the company whose analysis undergirds today's announcement on flight MH370, explained to SkyNews how it was able to locate the flightpath of the missing plane.

As the company had already announced earlier, its satellites kept receiving hourly signals from the plane despite the fact that the jet's communication systems were switched off. Inmarsat then analyzed data from flights that took a similar path to MH370.

Inmarsat's senior vice president Chris McLoughlin said:

"What we did two weeks ago was say it could be north or it could be south, and what we've done is refined that with the signals we got from other aircraft and that gives you a very good fit."

"Previous aircraft provided a pattern, and that pattern to the south is virtually what we got in our suggested estimate. The fit is very, very strong."

"We passed the information on after it had been peer reviewed by others in the UK air industry and after it had been compared with Boeing."

Head over to SkyNews for the full story.

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BBC Transport Correspondent Richard Westcott tweets from the offices of British satellite company Inmarsat, who provided data analysis to Malaysia on the location of missing flight MH370.

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