Missing MH370: 'He shouldn't have been on that flight. It's not fair.'

Missing MH370: 'He shouldn't have been on that flight. It's not fair.'

BEIJING - Two Saturdays ago, Madam Nan Kaifen, 40, waited at a Jining train station for her husband, a construction worker who was returning home from Singapore for the first time in over a year.

He was supposed to have arrived in Beijing early that morning, taken a nine-hour train ride to their hometown in Shandong province, and arrived in time for dinner with their two children, aged eight and 14.

Mr Liu Qiang, 40, never showed up. "I waited all night, and now I'm still waiting," Madam Nan, a small woman with a rough voice and bloodshot eyes, says.

Her husband was one of 153 Chinese passengers on Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370, still missing in what has become the biggest aviation mystery in modern history.

It was carrying 239 people, including an all-Malaysian crew, and lost contact with air traffic control 50 minutes after take-off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8.

The next day, Madam Nan hurried to Beijing with five family members - her husband's 70-year-old father and three siblings and her sister - after watching the news and confirming with her husband's company that he was on the flight.

She has been cooped up in the Beijing Metropark Lido hotel ever since, with more than 400 other relatives of passengers. All of them have been on an emotional roller coaster as dribs and drabs of information emerged each day about the jetliner that vanished.

Madam Nan started off hopeful, especially since there was a ringtone when she dialled her husband's mobile number repeatedly on Day 1 of her ordeal.

As days passed with no news, she began to expect the worst. On Day 5, she told The Sunday Times: "I don't know what I will do, and I am still hopeful. But it has been so long, and I must be prepared in my heart."

Then the Malaysian government revealed last Saturday - on Day 7 - that the plane had changed course and had remained flying until at least 8am the next day.

Like most of the other family members here, Madam Nan's hopes rose with the news, and they became convinced that Kuala Lumpur was negotiating with terrorists for the safe return of the passengers who were being held hostage somewhere.

"It was very hard not to know anything for so long, but as long as my husband comes home safe, that's OK," she said that day.

But the days continued to pass, and the Malaysian government made it clear it had not received any ransom demands.

Madam Nan began to despair again, and last Wednesday, Day 11, she joined some other families in starting a hunger strike. "It's to protest," she said then. "It's to show how upset we are and get them to return us our loved ones."

She abandoned the strike after a day, persuaded by family members not to hurt herself.

But she barely eats, and has only some porridge or soup at the hotel restaurant at meal times.

What she loved the most about her husband - his thriftiness and his dedication to providing for his family - she now hates, because those qualities put him in this predicament, she says.

Mr Liu usually came home like other workers once a year during the Chinese New Year. But this year, after four years in Singapore, he stayed back to work and earn extra in overtime pay.

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