KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Vowing never to give up on the desperate search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, family members of those aboard the plane wore symbolic T-shirts and released white balloons March 8 as they marked the anniversary of the jet’s disappearance.
Gatherings were held in Kuala Lumpur, where the flight departed on March 8, 2014, and Beijing, where it was headed when it vanished with 239 people aboard. Despite an intensive yearlong search, no trace of the Boeing 777 has been found.
“My daughter asks me every day, ‘Where is Daddy? Why isn’t he answering his phone?’” a teary-eyed Kelly Wen from China, whose husband was on the plane, said at a gathering at a Kuala Lumpur mall to mark the anniversary.
The more than 100 people who gathered wore white T-shirts with the picture of an airplane and bearing the words “Search on,” as a video tribute of the passengers and crew members was played.
About 30 family members later went on stage for speeches and a group photo.
One man dedicated a poem to his cousin Anne Daisy, who was aboard the plane. “You have been hidden from me. I don’t know where to search. When will we once again meet?” Raymund Gagarin said.
Daisy’s 27-year-old daughter, Grace Subathirai Nathan, then gave a speech in tribute to her mother. Nathan, who helped organize the event, said she was in London when the tragedy occurred.
“Every day is like a living nightmare. I miss my mother so much. She was to me my everything,” an emotional Nathan said. “It is so important that we have some form of closure. It is so important not to give up on the people that we love.”
The families released white balloons to send “messages of hope to our loved ones wherever they may be,” Nathan said.
A local singer wrote a song dedicated to the families, praying that “in the arms of the angels, may you find comfort.”
Members of the public signed a tribute wall. They also signed a petition urging that the search for the plane does not end until it is found.
Nathan said the petition would continue for a few months to collect as many signatures as possible before it is sent to Malaysia’s government.
The ceremony came as the first comprehensive report into the disappearance of Flight 370 was issued. Many of those who gathered at the mall said they didn’t read the report, while others dismissed it.
Intan Maizura Othman, whose husband, Hazrin Hasnan, was a flight attendant on the plane, said she didn’t plan to read the report because it “won’t be of any use” in the search for the truth.
“I pray he is in good hands and that someday, somehow, God will show us what truly happened,” she said.
In China, where most of the plane’s passengers were from, several dozen relatives gathered at the main Buddhist temple in central Beijing, some of them wearing T-shirts reading “Never Give Up. Search On.”
A swarm of security closely watched the relatives and stopped them from entering the sprawling grounds.
Since the plane’s disappearance, Chinese security have tightened their watch over the relatives, especially after some began criticizing the Chinese government’s response to the incident.
“We want to show our determination,” said Jiang Hui, whose mother was aboard the flight. “We are here to pray for our loved ones and we hope they can come back and the truth will come out as soon as possible.”
She said that without concrete evidence, she and other relatives will never accept the conclusion of the Malaysian authorities that the passengers are dead.
By Eileen Ng and Jack Chang. AP videojournalist Peng Peng in Beijing contributedSource: The National Herald