Asia

MH370: Anger, grief and uncertainty six months on

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Media captionLi Ling still hopes for a miracle that will let her husband come home alive

Six months ago, Li Ling was preparing for the return of her husband who was working overseas to fulfil his dream back home.

Bian Liangjing was going to see his now two-year-old son, Haohao, for the first time in a year.

Mr Bian trained as a dentist. But the 28-year-old didn't have the money to open his own clinic. For that reason, he took a well-paid job at a construction site in Singapore to save up the cash.

On 8 March he boarded flight MH370. It was a scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. He would be home within a few hours.

But then the Malaysian airliner vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board.

'Daddy will be back'

"My life is a mess, it's so hard for me," says Ms Li, 24, cradling her son. "When I see his picture it breaks my heart."

She lives in a one-storey farmhouse that she shares with her husband's parents and brother.

Image caption The Bian family say they have been devastated by Liangjing's disappearance
Image caption Mr Bian trained as a dentist, but took a well-paid job overseas in Singapore

On the white-washed wall of the living room hang the couple's wedding photographs - the bride and groom dressed in a creamy white dress and suit respectively, a swing in front of them, and a forest-scene photo-shopped as the background.

They're the type of over-the-top romantic photos that are common in homes across China - a memory of happy times. But for the Bian family they're a constant reminder of what's been lost. Even the joy her own son brings cannot mask Ms Li's pain.

"Sometimes he calls other people 'daddy'," she says, tears forming in her eyes. "He just wants his daddy. I tell him daddy will be back soon that he just went out to earn money."

Most of those on board flight MH370 were Chinese. Some - like Mr Bian - were labourers seeking opportunities overseas, others were on business trips or attending conferences, a few were families returning home from their holidays.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Relatives of those on board MH370 share information and support with each other
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A woman signs a dedication board for victims of MH370, as well as victims of MH17

But the one thing that unites the relatives of the missing is that they all want answers: Where is the plane? What happened on board? Is my loved one still alive?

Despite a massive search operation off the coast of Australia using specialised equipment no trace of the airliner has been found.

Galvanised by grief, relatives formed forums online to solve the MH370 mystery.

They trawl through aviation blogs, speak to experts, search for any clue that may have been missed. The group called Voice370 has 300 members from several countries.

"The most difficult thing is not knowing," says Jimmy Wang, 31, who abandoned his graduate studies in Sweden to support his grieving mother in China.

"The group is very important. You can only depend on people in the same situation as you."

'Mistake after mistake'

He says they discuss strategies to get the airline and governments involved in the search operation to disclose more information.

Reflecting the anger of many of the relatives, Mr Wang says the Malaysian government has made "mistake after mistake".

Image caption Despite the sadness around him, Haohao appears to be a happy boy

Others like Mr Bian's brother - Liangwei - take more direct action.

He travels to Beijing - a four hour drive away - most weeks to seek answers. On one occasion, says the 24-year old, he was detained by the authorities for several hours after trying to sleep along with other relatives at the Malaysia Airlines offices because they had no money for a hotel.

"The Chinese government has not helped in any way," he says. "They want us to settle with the compensation we received and stay at home and wait."

Liangwei says the missing plane has devastated his family.

"I can't bear to look at my nephew," he says. "When I look at him I see my brother's eyes. This is such a big disaster for our family but we are still waiting. We still have some hope that he is still alive."

A few feet away, Haohao drives about in a small, electric car. Despite all the agony around him, he seems a happy little boy.

His mother is determined to give him as normal an upbringing as she can. She still hopes for a miracle - so that she won't have to tell Haohao his father isn't coming home.

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