BEIJING - Relatives of Chinese passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were holding onto a "thin ray of hope" their loved ones were alive, a psychologist told AFP Monday.
Flight MH370 disappeared an hour after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early on Saturday, leaving families of more than 150 Chinese on board facing the grim reality that their loved ones could have perished.
But Paul Yin, a US-trained psychologist who has been working with some of the relatives, said many refused to believe the worst.
"I think most of them are holding onto that thin ray of hope," he told AFP at the Lido Hotel, where the families have been directed to wait for information by the airline.
"Whether they believe it to be realistic or not, most of them are not letting it go."
Yin said he arrived at the hotel on Sunday, supporting a friend who had a loved one on the flight, and had stayed to give psychological help to others.
He had been supporting other families by telephone soon after the plane was lost, he said.
Many of the families would not want to travel to Malaysia, he added, despite transport being offered by the airline.
"I think the families are looking for a stronger system of support, and I think they would feel too isolated if they go to Malaysia," he said.
It was important not to "overstate the hopes" to families that their relatives could have survived, he emphasised.
Otherwise, he said, "you set them up for a bigger fall, which is a dangerous thing to do".