Channel NewsAsia

MH370: Families mark 100th-day since plane disappeared

Families of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are no closer to knowing what happened to their dear ones 100 days since the plane disappeared.

BEIJING: Families of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 are no closer to knowing what happened to their dear ones 100 days since the plane disappeared.

There is still no trace of the plane which disappeared on March 8 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, carrying 239 passengers and crew.

More than half of the passengers on board were Chinese nationals.

It's traditional Chinese custom to mourn for the dead up to 100 days, so the 100th-day mark does hold significance even in this modern day and age in Beijing.

If it had been a normal accident, Sunday (June 15) would be the last day of mourning, and families and relatives would then be allowed to move on with their lives.

Of course, this is no ordinary case.

Many of the family members have decided to mark the 100th-day by pouring their grief into their Weibo and WeChat accounts.

A hashtag was created - 'Malaysia Airlines Lost Contact 100 Days' - on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Posted on social media sites were emotional messages such as: "I have tried to lead a normal life but I can't", "I don't see smiles on my parents' faces anymore", as well as photos of loved ones.

Zhang Qian, 28-year-old Beijing resident and wife of MH370 passenger Wang Houbin, said: "I used to be a cheerful and optimistic person. Now, I don't speak to my relatives.

"I will only go out when I have to meet the MH370 relatives. I don't go out anymore, because outside I see the shadow of my husband and myself. I am afraid to go out. I don't speak anymore."

Sunday morning also saw a group of relatives of MH370 passengers gathered at the Beijing Lama Temple to offer prayers for the missing.

Extensive searches for the plane have been carried out between the South China Sea and the southern Indian Ocean by multi-national search teams from both air and sea, using sophisticated equipment and satellite data.

But the search has yielded nothing and relatives of the passengers are frustrated by the lack of information and also false leads.

Frustrated relatives had tried to get answers from the Malaysia Airlines office in Beijing on Wednesday.

But they were turned away and refused access to the airline office.

A heavy security presence blocked them as well as journalists from entering the building.

Since early May, Malaysia Airlines stopped giving face-to-face briefings to family members in Beijing.

Malaysia has insisted that it will not give up searching for the plane until it is found.

The next phase of the search is expected to start in August and will take up to a year, covering 60,000 sq km of the Indian Ocean.

The plan is to map the ocean floor at a cost of US$56 million or more, and the bill is to be split between Malaysia and Australia.

A Dutch firm has successfully tendered to map out the ocean floor, and a Chinese military vessel will survey the area after that.

That mission is expected to take three months to complete. 

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