Five years on, MH370 families band together to seek closure

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Five years ago, their loved ones boarded a plane and vanished.

FILE PHOTO: A woman leaves a message of support and hope for the passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 in central Kuala Lumpur March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo

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.

FILE PHOTO: Jacquita Gonzales, the wife of in-flight supervisor Patrick Francis Gomes, who was onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370, speaks during its fourth annual remembrance event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 3, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin/File Photo

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.”

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Darren Schuettler

Source

more recommended stories

  • In an Indian village, Muslims talk of leaving as divide with Hindus widens

    NAYABANS, India (Reuters) – Muslims in.

  • U.S. House Democrats subpoena more Trump ex-aides, including Hicks

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House.

  • Dutch politician resigns over asylum seeker crime report

    AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch junior Justice.

  • Trump – U.S. will respond with ‘great force’ if Iran attacks interests

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump.

  • In tearful ceremony, Sri Lanka Catholics mark one month since bombings

    Devotees light candles while praying in.

  • Austrian motor racing great Niki Lauda, who survived fiery crash, dies

    VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian motor racing.

  • Nicaraguan government says to release 100 political prisoners

    MANAGUA (Reuters) – The Nicaraguan government.

  • Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records

    (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on.

  • Lawyers for South Africa’s Zuma tell court he is being treated unfairly

    JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Jacob Zuma’s lawyers.

  • BJP preparing for return to power as exit polls predict victory: sources

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s ruling.

  • New Ukraine President Zelenskiy dissolves parliament

    Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes the.

  • U.S. warship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade tensions

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military.

  • U.S. ambassador to China to make first visit to Tibet since 2013 – report

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Ambassador to.

  • Trump threatens Iran in tweet as tension between two countries escalate

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump.

  • European mainstream politicians see hope in downfall of Austrian far right leader

    VIENNA (Reuters) – Politicians from Europe’s.

  • France’s Le Maire says a Le Pen win in EU elections would hurt euro

    French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno.

  • Austrian chancellor, president to discuss election after far-right video scandal

    VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s chancellor and.

  • Australia’s conservative government revels in ‘miracle’ re-election

    MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s conservative government.

  • Saudi minister denies activist Baghdadi faced any Saudi threat

    FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of.

  • At campaign rally, Biden decries Democratic ‘anger’ and pledges unity

    PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Seeking to build.

  • Forces loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed government receive military hardware

    TRIPOLI (Reuters) – A coalition of.

  • Australia’s conservative government moves into election-winning position

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Liberal-led conservative.

  • Widows of Iraq’s war pick up the threads of fragmented lives

    MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – In a.

  • North Korea asks U.N. chief to address ship seizure by ‘gangster’ U.S.

    FILE PHOTO: An undated surveillance image.

  • Australian voters tipped to elect Labor government

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australians began voting.

  • U.S. Treasury’s Mnuchin rejects subpoena for Trump tax returns

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary.

  • UK advises British-Iranian nationals not to travel to Iran

    FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy.

  • Australia’s ‘larrikin’ former prime minister Bob Hawke dies at 89

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Bob Hawke, a.

  • Hearings begin to halt dolphin hunting in notorious Japan village

    TOKYO (Reuters) – Court hearings began.

  • Taiwan parliament weighs landmark same-sex measures ahead of vote

    A same-sex marriage supporter holds rose.

  • Trump tells aides he does not want U.S. war with Iran

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • In nod to 2020, Trump pitches U.S. immigration overhaul

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump.