MH370 search: Relatives of passengers remain sceptical about Reunion Discovery

Relatives of passengers on MH370 remain sceptical about Réunion discovery

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The Independent Online

Jacquita Gomes was torn about whether to believe that aircraft debris found more than 16 months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 could be the first concrete evidence that her husband is truly gone.

Not believing could allow her to keep alive the hopes of many relatives that the airliner and her husband, a flight attendant, landed somewhere unscathed in a hijacking plot – though the discovery of a Boeing 777 wing component on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion seemed to make that possibility more remote than ever.

“One part of me, I want it to be true,” Ms Gomes said, “so I can put my husband, Patrick, to rest. It’s been one year, I want him to be at peace.”

But, she added: “The other part of me, I don’t want it to be true, so there is hope for good news. You know, there has been news that people are released after being kidnapped for one year, so there can always be hope for good news if this is not real.”


Relatives of the 239 people aboard the flight – nearly two-thirds of them from China – have been in an agonising limbo since the plane disappeared on 8 March 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. For months, nothing was found. Malaysian authorities eventually concluded the plane went down in the southern Indian Ocean, citing satellite data, but many relatives refused to accept any such conclusion without concrete evidence.

Now, although investigators say there’s a “high degree of certainty” that the “flaperon” belongs to a Boeing 777, many relatives remain sceptical and say they are waiting for more definitive word.

“I’ve not slept the whole night – really nervous anticipating the news,” Elaine Chew said in Kuala Lumpur. Her husband, David Tan Size Hiang, was another flight attendant on the plane.

A group of many of the Chinese relatives said in a statement that they wanted authorities to be 100 per cent certain the part was from MH370, and that, even if so, it should not dampen the resolve to find the rest of the wreckage, the whereabouts of all the passengers and the reasons for the disappearance.

The Réunion debris may finally rule out missing passengers still being alive, said Wang Zheng, an engineer in the Chinese city of Nanjing whose father and mother, Wang Linshi and Xiong Deming, were aboard the flight as part of a group of Chinese artists touring Malaysia. “All hope is truly gone now,” he said. “I’m feeling very confused and emotional at the moment.”


However, Mr Wang also said that closure remains a distant prospect. “For now, we’ll just follow the investigation and see what it shows,” he said.

The disappearance has been difficult for relatives in China, where the culture places an especially heavy emphasis on finding and seeing the remains before grieving can begin.

Zhang Qian, whose husband, Wang Houbin, was among the 153 Chinese citizens aboard the flight, said she had seen reports of the discovery but remained unconvinced.

“We still can’t be sure. How could it have travelled so far?” Ms Zhang, 29, said. She quit her job after the accident and turned to Buddhism to find solace. “They’ve given us so much contradictory information so far, how can we believe them now?” she said.