World / Asia-Pacific

MH370: Nine months on

By Zhu Xingxin and Cui Jia (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-28 20:18
The skies were clear in Malaysia late in the evening of March 7 as Hou Aiqin passed through the security checks at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. She was due to take Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, bound for Beijing, scheduled to take off at 1:41 am minutes on March 8.

As usual when she traveled overseas, the 45-year-old paused to select a gift for her husband. If everything went well, she would be at home in Beijing within six hours, but the Boeing 777-200, which was carrying 239 people, including 154 Chinese citizens, never arrived at its destination.

In December 2013, Hou decided to travel to Nepal as one of a group of 23 Chinese tourists. For the return journey, the group decided to split up because of a lack of discounted tickets. The majority took China Southern Airlines Flight CZ3101 to Beijing via Guangzhou in Guangdong province, and a smaller group of nine flew to Kuala Lumpur to transfer to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

"I remember her calling to tell me that by transferring flights her group would visit one more country than we would," said Wang Wenjing, the leader of the group that took the China Southern flight to Beijing. "She called it 'a perk'."

Wang and the other 13 members of his party landed in Beijing at 11 am. It was then they learned that MH370, carrying Hou and 8 other members of the group, had not arrived and was unaccounted for.

At 9 pm on March 7, Hou landed in Kuala Lumpur for her transfer. The first thing she did upon disembarking was to turn on her phone and share the photos she'd taken during the trip on social media. "She called me to let me know she was safe and sound. She would select a gift for me every time she traveled abroad," Bai Shuanfu, Hou's husband, said.

Another passenger on MH 370 was Ju Kun, a renowned director of martial arts movies and a former long-time stuntman for the famous kung fu star, Jet Li. On February 2, Ju arrived in Malaysia to shoot a movie called Marco Polo, but he had to return to China to sign a contract for another movie, so he decided to leave his crew for four days and take flight MH370 to Beijing. Because the schedule was tight, Ju persuaded his wife Cheng Liping to stay in Malaysia.

"I'm about to board now. I'll call you when I arrive," were his last words to Cheng when he phoned her just before his flight.

The Lost Love

According to data released by Malaysian Airlines, after climbing for 20 minutes, flight MH370 attained cruising altitude, traveling at an airspeed of 867 kilometers per hour, 10 kilometers meters into its journey to Beijing.

At 1:21 am, when MH370 was in Vietnamese airspace, air traffic control at Tan So'n Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh city lost contact with the plane. According to the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the aircraft's communications system was switched off manually, but no one knows what actually happened because the plane never sent a distress signal.

At the same time, Bai in Beijing said he woke suddenly. He said he was sure he had heard his wife whispering in his ear.

On March 6, the last evening of the trip to Nepal, Hou and Bai spent 30 minutes chatting on a video phone, saying how much they missed each other. Although they had been classmates at their high school in Shanxi Province, Hou and Bai didn't fall in love until later, when they were studying at separate colleges.

Despite opposition from their parents, Hou and Bai married almost as soon as they graduated from college. They soon started a family when Hou gave birth to their daughter. Bai said his was an amazing person who knew how to live life to the full.

In 2004, Hou started a business with a friend. Five years later, their efforts had started to pay off, and Hou was given an "Outstanding Youth Entrepreneur" award by the local government. Meanwhile, she was a member of the local Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee and actively involved in political affairs.

Bai always wore the wristwatch his wife gave him as a gift when she traveled to Hong Kong five years ago. It brings him inner strength. On Nov 27, the couple's wedding anniversary, Bai that said that the most beautiful thing in life is not scenery, but love and affection. He can clearly recall the moment at this year's Spring Festival when he and Hou put up paper-cut window decorations.

He's still waiting for news of his wife: "I can persuade myself to understand, but I just can't accept the truth."

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics