For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 a.m. is the only thing that remains confirmed.
Months of searching for the plane over a more than one million square kilometer area of the southern Indian Ocean has failed to turn up even a life vest. The search of a smaller area where the flight now is considered most likely to have ended up is expected to be finished in May.
Some are already asking: if it does not turn up there, what then?
Accident or cover up
Last month, Malaysia declared the flight’s disappearance was an accident, but that too sparked an outcry from families in Beijing and Malaysia. A final report is expected later this week.
Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood was on board the flight, said authorities have provided no proof or substantiation to their declaration.
“There still is absolutely no verification for what they’ve done to come up with this decision,” she told reporters after the announcement was made. “Just a few months ago they were saying the flight was under the control of a hijacker. So, how is it all of a sudden an accident?”
Bajc is not alone in her calls for more clarity.
Most of MH370’s passengers were Chinese nationals. In their quest for answers over the past year, they have taken to the streets in protest and refused to accept what Malaysian authorities have had to say so far. More recently, some families have even traveled to Malaysia demanding answers from authorities there as well.
In addition to the anguish of not knowing, the Chinese families of those on board have also faced scrutiny and surveillance from authorities in China.
Jiang Hui’s mother was among those on board who recently traveled to Malaysia. He said that one of the demands Chinese families took to authorities during their recent trip was the request to see video of their loved ones boarding the flight.
“According to my knowledge, there are some Malaysian family members who have already seen it,” he told reporters. “Why are they family members [just like us] and we can't see our relatives? If this is the last [chance we have to see them], that's an image something we especially want to see."
Steve Wang did not go the trip to Malaysia, but his mother was on board the flight. He said the protests are the families’ way of trying to show the world they want the truth.
“When such things happen, you have to take action. Just imagine if I was a common person in Malaysia. If such thing happened, I would be scared,” said Wang.
Try to be strong
Wang said that when his mother boarded flight MH370, she was on her way home from a trip to Nepal where she was doing what she loved most, traveling and taking photographs.
“She went to all kinds of places in China and other countries,” Wang said. “I think her life is really happy and it was the best time for her to enjoy life.”
A recently retired university professor, Wang described his mother as young and full of energy and passion.
Wang has declined to provide the media with any of photos of his mother or photographs she took. He has kept the media away from his home, out of respect for his mother and father who is also dealing with the anguish of the mystery. He agreed to meet with VOA at a shopping mall near where he lives, where the two used to come often and shop for groceries.
Wang said he is confident the truth will eventually come out, even if it takes years or decades. When asked about the past year, he had three things to say: “The first is nightmare, the second is sadness and pain, and the third is try to be strong.”