BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- After waiting more than 18 hours, desperate family members and friends of passengers on the missing plane that was scheduled to reach Beijing on Saturday morning can do nothing more than wait and pray for the safe return of their loved ones.
The Beijing hotel where Malaysia Airlines has asked them to gather for more information is still gripped by anxiety after meaningful updates have failed to arrive.
A lady who kept scanning the latest news told Xinhua at the hotel that her relative on board the plane had brought two cellphones in order to keep in touch but neither could be reached.
"My husband was on the plane and we have a young kid back at home. Our child could not live without its father," said a woman from Tianjin while sobbing.
She occasionally spoke in Chinese and English with people around her, hoping for new updates. No airline staff showed up and she said she was infuriated with the lack of communication.
Xinjiang resident Memetjiang said during a brief five-minute call with his wife Nur Guli at around 10 p.m. on Friday that it looked like his flight was taking off as normal. He was looking forward to getting to Beijing the following day, he added.
But Nur Guli told Xinhua she now could not reach her husband.
Memetjiang is an art professor teaching at Xinjiang Kashgar Normal College. He flew to Malaysia with another 23 Chinese painters for an art exchange activity scheduled on March 5.
"He is a good painter," said Nur Guli, who has a nine-year-old daughter with Memetjiang. She is going to fly to Beijing.
"The waiting is the most anxious moment in my life," said Li Bin, who is attending China's ongoing "two sessions" political meetings. Li, who is also a senior engineer with knowledge of aircraft technologies, expressed hope that the state-of-the art measures normally applied to finding lost flights can work as soon as possible.
China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) confirmed earlier on Saturday that contact has been lost with a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft left the Malaysian capital at 12:41 a.m. Beijing time on Saturday, and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. the same day, according to Malaysia Airlines.
The CAAC confirmed the flight number was MH370, which was carrying 239 people, including 12 crew members and more than 150 Chinese passengers. So far, the flight hasn't contacted the Chinese air traffic management department or entered China's air traffic control area.
Contact with the flight was lost along with its radar signal at 1:20 a.m. Beijing time on Saturday when it was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam.
Malaysia Airlines said on its website that the company is trying to locate the flight with emergency rescue teams.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Chinese embassies and consulates to strengthen contact with departments of relevant countries and pay close attention to the search and rescue work for the missing plane.
All-out efforts must be made for any emergency treatment necessary in the aftermath of the incident, Xi said in his instruction.
The Ministry of Transportation and the CAAC must launch emergency measures immediately and enhance security checks to ensure the "absolute safety" of China's civil aviation operation, according to the president.
Premier Li Keqiang also instructed the government to intensify communication and contact with civil aviation agencies of Malaysia, urging them to intensify the search effort.
He also called for details of the Chinese passengers aboard the plane to be verified as soon as possible.
Relevant departments should cooperate with foreign parties to prepare for emergency rescue and liaise with passengers' families in a timely and appropriate manner, Li said.
Yang Chuantang, Chinese minister of transport, announced the launch of the highest-degree emergency response mechanism.
The ministry is closely observing the incident and actively coordinating with domestic authorities as well as maritime rescue authorities and civil aviation administrations in Malaysia and Vietnam.
Yang also put the professional rescue forces in the South China Sea on standby.
The CAAC demanded its air traffic management office keep in touch with its Malaysian counterpart, and ordered Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) to comfort relatives and friends waiting anxiously for the arrival of the missing flight.
BCIA has formed an emergency group to deal with the incident.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that China is very worried over the missing flight. "The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe," said Wang.
A communication manager for Boeing China told a Xinhua reporter, "We are closely monitoring reports from the MH370 flight of Malaysia Airlines. Our thoughts are with everyone on the plane."
The flight was a code share with China Southern Airlines. A spokesman for China Southern Airlines said they are investigating whether any of the company's passengers were on board.
Despite worries and sorrow, camaraderie seemed good among the waiting people.
A list of missing passengers has been circulating widely on China's Twitter-like Weibo service, with many netizens posting their thoughts and support.
Over 1.07 million Weibo users have followed topics concerning the Malaysia Airlines plane.
"Let's pray for all the passengers on board. We are waiting for your safe landing," posted an Internet user under the screen name "Xingzhe Chengzi."
"MH370, if you can hear us, please keep flying until you reach the destination. Dear friends, now the temperature in Beijing is 5 degrees Celsius, a little bit cold. Please wear your coats to keep warm," one particularly popular post on instant messaging tool WeChat read.
"Don't forget to hug your relatives and friends, because they love you more than you can imagine," the poster ended.
Xi urges Malaysia flight emergency response
BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday urged emergency measures over the missing Malaysian flight bound for Beijing with more than 150 Chinese nationals on board.Full Story
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