THE relatives of those on board missing flight MH370 have joined forces to get to the bottom of the mystery which has baffled the world’s top aviation experts.
They meet every month in Kuala Lumpur to support each other and try to keep missing Malaysian Airlines flight in the public eye.
Their aim is to get to the bottom of the world’s greatest aviation puzzle – which has sparked dozens of conspiracy theories – adding they feel “starved of real information.”
The support group’s relatives were among the 239 people on board the Boeing 777 when it vanished en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
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.
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.
MH370 – WHAT HAPPENED?
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur and was heading to Beijing with 239 people on board.
Passengers included Chinese calligraphers, a couple on their way home to their young sons after a long-delayed honeymoon and a construction worker who hadn’t been home in a year.
But at 12.14am on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines lost contact with MH370 close to Phuket island in the Strait of Malacca.
Before that, Malaysian authorities believe the last words heard from the plane, from either the pilot or co-pilot, was “Good night Malaysian three seven zero”.
Satellite “pings” from the aircraft suggest it continued flying for around seven hours when the fuel would have run out.
Experts have calculated the most likely crash site around 1,000 miles west of Perth, Australia.
But a huge search of the seabed failed to find any wreckage – and there are a number of alternative theories as to its fate.
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.
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.”
LAMB SLAM & SCRAM
£270k purple Lambo found abandoned in ditch near Spurs training ground
£148m lotto winner can’t find love, gorges on pasties & pays people to be his pals
BRIDGE TOO FAR
Hardest woman soldier got within TWO miles of becoming first female Para
Retired couple rage as neighbour extends house three inches into their garden
TRIP OF THE ICEBERG
Granny is swept out to SEA on ice ‘throne’ after posing for tourist pic
Baby girl found dead in Wigan as cops arrest 32-year-old man for murder
In July 2018, the Malaysian government’s report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 says all the evidence points to the fact the plane was deliberately flown out into the Indian Ocean.
According to the report, the only way MH370 would have been able to deviate from its flight path was if it was under deliberate, manual control.
But there were still more questions than answers after the report was handed down – and the conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance are legion.
Malaysia’s new government has said the search could be resumed but only if new and compelling evidence comes to light.