BEIJING March 8, 2014— -- Families whose relatives were aboard the apparently doomed Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished en route to Beijing spent a distraught day in a Beijing hotel waiting for news that they feared would be catastrophic.
A sobbing woman in her 20s said her brother texted her that he was on the plane, but when it didn't arrive she said airline officials told her plane hadn't taken off. But her parents at home read news accounts of the plane's disappearance.
A woman cried uncontrollably, saying her son was on the plane.
"My son is only 40 years. He is so kind. Please take my life, and give my son back, what am I going to do?" she wailed. "My son, Malaysian Airline, you are killing me."
A woman wrapped in a green coat said her husband works in a factory in Malaysia and he comes home each month. The family was planning to go on vacation in Hainan Sunday, but the father wanted to fly home today so he could go to the dentist with their 5-year-old child before they went on vacation.
Relatives of the passengers had gone to Beijing International Airport Friday to await for the incoming flight that carried many Chinese who had gone to Malaysia as tourists. But about four hours after the airline posted a "delayed" notice on the arrivals board, an airport official, taking no questions, wrote an announcement by hand on a board directing people downtown to a hotel where representatives from Malaysia Airlines would meet them.
The families were eventually bused to the Lido Hotel about 15 miles away. As the media presence grew at the airport, numerous police patrolled the arrivals terminal to maintain order.
As the awful reality became apparent to the waiting families, the anguish and the tears began.
While enduring the agonizing wait at a meeting room at the hotel, the distraught families were given a meeting room and bottles of water. They tried to give the families food, but it was rejected. They wanted information instead.
Tempers rose along with the tears. Some were screaming in anger and frustration that they wanted to be able to talk to an official from the airline, and they threatened to go out to the media if they didn't get answers soon.
While the families fumed, Malaysia's defense minister held a news conference in Kuala Lumpur and said, "There is nothing we will not do to ensure the families we are doing our very, very best."
Among those on board the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight was a group of tourists returning from Malaysia. The party had been split into two groups and the first group, which flew a different airline, had already arrived and were waiting for the rest of the travelers to arrive. Some families had been split up when the group was divided.