Missing flight QZ8501: Hope ...for a family

Missing flight QZ8501: Hope ...for a family
17-year-old junior college student Nico Giovanni was a scholarship holder, formerly from Anglo-Chinese school (Independent).

Calls after calls were made, in hopes of a familiar voice at the receiving end.

The response each time: Eerie silence.

Ms Juliana's tireless attempts to reach her sister-in-law and family remains futile. It has been so since Sunday.

She is tired and though she tries to fight the tears, they flow easily.

She choked as she described to The New Paper how her sister-in-law Indahju Liangsih and Indahju's husband Herumanto Tanus, and their two children, Nico Giovanni and Justin Giovanni, were on the missing Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501. It has been over 48 hours and with each passing minute, hope struggles to restrain despair.

Ms Juliana, 38, is refusing to give up hope. Not yet. Not now.

So she continues to wait and pray for her family's safe return.

"Even this morning, I was still calling each of them, waiting for someone to pick up my call," Ms Juliana, who goes by only one name. She spoke in a telephone interview from Surabaya's Juanda International Airport.

Ms Juliana and her family have been waiting at the airport's holding area since 10am yesterday. She's not going to rest yet, she said. Not until her family is found.

That she owes her niece, the only member of the family who was not on the flight. She said that Nico, 17, and Justin, nine, were with their parents on their way to visit their sister Chiara Natasha, who is a student in Singapore.

Meanwhile Chiara, 15, has returned to Surabaya after being told her family was on QZ8501. Clinging tightly to her family portrait, Chiara told Malaysia's Harian Metro:

"I am still in shock. I cannot believe what's happening after being told my whole family was on the flight."

She said they were all supposed to meet in Singapore before returning to Surabaya as a family. It would have been a belated Christmas gathering for the family.

Chiara added: "I've been studying at Methodist Girls School in Singapore for two years and did not get to celebrate Christmas because of school activities."

She learnt of the missing flight only after a relative called her.

"I'm stunned and speechless, and have been crying over my family's fate."

ANXIOUS

Another anxious person at the Juanda International airport was Ms Nana, who was holding a photo outside the crisis room, reported Bloomberg. She claimed she had worked for the family for 18 years.

The family maid was in tears as she spoke to reporters, saying she had looked after the children "since they were babies".

Mr Herumanto's last words to her before the flight was that they were meeting Chiara in Singapore and for her to "take care in Surabaya".

For now Ms Juliana is hanging to memories of the family dinner on Christmas eve at a restaurant in Surabaya.

The extended family is close-knit. Ms Juliana and Ms Indahju often talk on the phone and go on shopping trips together.

On Friday, two days before the plane was reported missing, they spoke at length.

"Everything sounded fine, it was normal. We always talk about our family," Ms Juliana said.

Then the family left for their trip. A few hours after their flight, Ms Juliana heard about the missing plane on the local radio and then from social media.

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