Missing jet’s passengers had work, adventure in mind

Internationally, grief mounts

A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane was accompanied from her hotel room in Beijing on Sunday.  From North America to Australia and China, families and friends were enduring an agonizing wait for news about the fate of the plane.


A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane was accompanied from her hotel room in Beijing on Sunday. From North America to Australia and China, families and friends were enduring an agonizing wait for news about the fate of the plane.

BANGKOK — Numbered 1 to 227, the passenger manifest for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is an outwardly unremarkable document.

But behind the columns of capitalized names, nationalities, and ages are 227 unique stories, part of a rich tapestry that assembles every time a flight departs. There were middle-aged Australians with wanderlust, an acclaimed Chinese calligrapher, and a young Indonesian man heading to begin a new career.


The Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens early Saturday morning, in the first hour of a six-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.

From the United States to Australia and China, families and friends are enduring an agonizing wait for news about Flight MH370.

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The flight had a crew of 12, all from Malaysia, a melting-pot nation of ethnic Malays, Chinese, and Indians. Passengers on the popular business and tourist route were mostly from China and Malaysia, along with people from other corners of the world: Americans, Australians, Indians, French, Indonesians, Ukrainians, and other nationalities.

In Keller, Texas, the brother of a man who was aboard the flight said Sunday his family is leaning on their faith as they wait for news about the man they last saw about a week ago.

Philip Wood, an IBM executive who had been working in Beijing over the past two years, recently returned home from Asia before his next assignment in Kuala Lumpur.


Wood was back in Texas to prepare for his move to the Malaysian capital, his brother, James, said.

‘‘There is a shock, a very surreal moment in your life,’’ James Wood said in a phone interview from the family’s home in Keller, a Dallas suburb.

‘‘My brother, our family, we are Christians. Christ above else is what’s keeping us together,’’ he said.

Philip Wood, 50, was one of three Americans who were aboard the Boeing 777 when it lost contact with air traffic control.

The other two Americans on the flight were children, Nicole Meng, 4, and Yan Zhang, 2. It is not known whom they were traveling with.

A technical storage executive at IBM Malaysia, Wood was ‘‘a good, hard worker,’’ his brother said.

He also pointed out that, along with his brother, members of hundreds of other families were aboard Flight MH370. ‘‘This is not a local thing; this is a world thing,’’ he said. ‘‘We are one family.’’

Acclaimed Chinese calligrapher Meng Gaosheng boarded the flight with 18 other artists plus six family members and four staff. ‘‘I can only pray for a miracle,’’ said Daniel Liau, the organizer of a calligraphic and painting exhibition in Malaysia attended by the calligrapher.

‘‘I feel very sad. Even though I knew them for a short time, they have become my friends,’’ Liau said.

Also traveling as a group were eight Chinese and 12 Malaysian employees of the Freescale semiconductor company of Austin, Texas, which said it was assembling ‘‘around-the-clock support’’ for their families.

For seasoned Australian travelers Robert Lawton, 58, and his wife, Catherine, 54, the seemingly routine takeoff of flight MH370 was the beginning of another adventure.

‘‘They mentioned in passing they were going on another big trip and they were really excited,’’ Caroline Daintith, a neighbor, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television regarding the couple, whom she described as doting grandparents.

Sharing their adventure was another 50-something Australian couple, Rodney and Mary Burrows. Neighbor Don Stokes said the trip was intended as the beginning of the ‘‘next step in their life.’’

Among the family groups on board were teenage sweethearts Hadrien Wattrelos, 17, and Zhao Yan, 18, students at a French school in Beijing who were returning from the Malaysian leg of a two-week holiday along with Wattrelos’s mother and younger sister.

In December, Yan changed her Facebook profile photo to one of her and Wattrelos. He had commented: ‘‘Je t'aime,’’ followed by a heart, and she had ‘‘liked’’ his comment.

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