Monday, March 7, 2016

Closure still a dream for families of MH370

As families and friends of those on missing flight MH370 mourn the second anniversary of the disappearance and loss of their loved ones today, many bemoan the fact that they are far from gaining closure and moving on from their grief. "There's no text book to teach you how to deal with this. Grief is already quite difficult to cope with, but it's even harder to move on when after two years we don't have a clue of finding out what happened," said Grace Subathirai, whose mother Anne Daisy was one of the passengers on board the ill-fated flight. "I haven't come to the point where I accept that my mother is dead. We're in limbo," she told The Malaysian Insider. Searching for a missing airplane MH370 disappeared along with 239 passengers and crew on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Satellite data had led investigators to believe that the plane had crashed somewhere in a remote stretch off the southern Indian Ocean. In spite of multinational search efforts, led largely by Australian authorities to find the plane, the only confirmed trace of MH370 is a flaperon discovered off the French island of Reunion last year. Last week, a piece of debris found along the eastern African coast between Mozambique and Madagascar was believed by investigators to be from the tail section of MH370. A team from Malaysia arrived in Mozambique over the weekend to inspect the piece of debris, but there are no further details. Far from being celebrated as a possible start to the end of the mystery of what happened to the plane, the discovery has instead been dismissed by family members as a red herring. "The smaller part of a plane, like the flaperon of the one that they just found few days ago, these are not good enough to suggest that the plane crashed in the Indian Ocean. Where are the bigger parts of the plane?" asked Jacquita Gonzales, whose husband of 28 years, Patrick Gomes, was MH370's lead steward on that day. For Gonzales, the events of the day MH370 disappeared two years ago have been constantly replayed in her head, and she yearns for the day she can have full closure when the truth behind what actually happened to the plane is revealed. "I will accept it that my husband's final resting place is in the Indian Ocean. But it does not mean I have full closure. "I still want to know the cause, I want to know what really happened to my husband," said Gonzales, 53. Intan Maizura Othman, who was six months pregnant with her second child when her husband Mohamad Hazri Hasnan disappeared, agreed that the discovery of the debris was far from an indication that she could finally know what happened to him on that fateful day. "My heart says that whatever evidence has been retrieved so far, be it the flaperon, is not enough to show that the plane had crashed into the ocean. I just don't believe it," said Intan. "I have accepted whatever had happened to my husband since day one. I will, however, not be at peace until the truth prevails." Search ending The search for MH370 has been headed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau since March 2014. As of March this year, four ships have scoured more than 85,000 sq km of a long but narrow "seventh arc", totalling 120,000 sq km of sea floor. An estimated US$160 million (RM649 million) has been spent on search efforts. Chief investigator Martin Dolan recently said he was confident that the missing plane would be found this year, despite the fact that the search officially ending this June. "It's very scary, the fact that they will stop looking, that they will just leave it unanswered," said Grace. Grace said that she, along with other family members of those on board MH370, would continue to lobby and increase awareness among the public in an attempt to rally governments involved not to give up looking for the plane. "Go back to the drawing block, keep looking. "The plane could not be where they think it is. There is still so many possibilities," she said. Millions in lawsuits Under international aviation laws, families of the 239 people had until today to file lawsuits against Malaysia Airlines. The company said it had approved 96 requests for legal proceedings, and that 42 next-of-kin have already collected full compensation. Yesterday, families of a dozen Chinese passengers filed suits against Malaysia Airlines, Boeing, Rolls Royce and others. At least 20 cases have been filed by Malaysians, with only one known case being settled out of court last year. While they are entitled to US$160,000 for compensation, they are eligible to sue for more. Lawyers say the payout from lawsuits will cost Malaysia Airlines hundreds of millions of dollars. But for Grace and many of her fellow next-of-kin, finding closure to the state of limbo many of them have been in for the past two years is the top priority. She appeals the public not to let the issue die down, saying that what had happened to MH370 should be of concern to everyone who has ever, and will ever, step on an aeroplane. "We're not trying to punish or blame anyone. No amount of money or compensation will ever bring our loved ones back to us. "But we're trying to understand what happened, so we can prevent it from happening again. For something so big to disappear, it's just beyond acceptable. We're talking about an aeroplane." Grace (pic, left) said she hoped the public would support any effort to continue the search for the missing airplane, saying that the toll of simply not knowing was too great to bear. "It's difficult to explain our situation. We haven't been able to bridge the gap between the knowing and accepting. We still don't know what happened and why," said Grace. "We still have hopes that we have answers one day, but we don't know how much longer we have to carry this burden. "Until then, I am alive, but I'm really not living." – March 8, 2016.]]>

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