MH370: Weary kin maintain mournful vigils

A family member of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 comforts another relative as they gather to pray at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing, June 15, 2014.

Dozens of family members of Chinese passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 visited a Buddhist temple in Beijing to pray for the return of their loved ones on Sunday, the 100th day since the jet vanished on March 8.

More than 30 family members visited on Sunday morning Yonghegong Lama Temple, where many Buddhists believe their prays can be heard and answered by the Buddha.

The family members said they believe their loved ones are still alive, and they visited the temple to pray to see them as soon as possible.

Zhang Lixia, a single mother from Heilongjiang province, was one of them. Zhang's 27-year-old daughter was aboard the missing jet. After all family members were asked on May 2 to leave the Lido Metro Park Hotel, where regular briefings updated the information on the search for the aircraft, Zhang chose to rent a house and remain in the capital, which she said makes her "feel more close to my daughter".

"When I left my home, I told them (relatives and friends) I was going to look for my daughter. I haven't found my daughter yet. How can I go back?" the 55-year-old said.

"When I was in the Lido hotel, the family members were all together. We could comfort each other. Now, I've almost reached a point where to die seems better than to live.

"I force myself to eat every day, because I still believe my daughter is alive and I have to stay strong to wait for her to come back."

Zhang said she surfed the Internet to search for any information about the aircraft often for a whole day and went to the assistance centre set up by Malaysia Airlines once a week.

"I went there to appeal for information we need. But they always reply that they have sent our appeal to other people. They even refuse to offer us drinking water when the temperature outside reaches 41 C," she said.

Cheng Liping, whose husband was aboard the jet, said she believes there is conspiracy and the plane was hijacked.

The 36-year-old said she visited the Buddhist temple the first and fifteenth of every Chinese lunar month to pray for her husband to come home.

Cheng has two sons, aged 2 and 6.

"I have felt more pain as Father's Day approached. My sons asked me when their dad could be back on Saturday evening," Cheng said, bursting into tears.

Cheng said she can sleep only two or three hours a day now and eat only a little porridge to fill her stomach. "I stopped working. But I have no idea about what I do every day. My mind is often absent. "

Dai Shuqin's sister and all of her five family members were aboard the missing jet. Dai said she was a "solely materialist" before, but now she has turned to various gods to pray, including Buddha and Jesus, and she also goes to see fortunetellers.

She is spending almost all of her retirement pension on calling other family members of passengers aboard the missing jet, taking part in various meetings or prayer activities and traveling to the assistance centre for information.

"I get about 2,000 yuan (S$403) in retirement pension a month. But that is hardly enough," said the 61-year-old.

Dai said she spends more than 600 yuan a month on calling other family members.

I heard that some family members are now having economic hardships and they even have to borrow money to buy milk powder for their babies, she said.

However, Dai said family members don't plan to accept the $50,000 Malaysia Airlines offered.

"Compensation is needed only when the incident is clear. But now there is not even any wreckage. It's possible that our relatives are alive."

On Saturday, Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment with renewed vigour to locate the missing flight as the search went into a more challenging phase, the country's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement

"I sincerely believe Malaysia will be credited for doing the best to our abilities under near-impossible circumstances and history will judge us favourably for that," he said.