Candlelight prayers offered for missing 239
Updated: 2014-04-09 08:56
By Zhu Xingxin and Jin Haixing (China Daily)
Families provide mutual support with bonds born of shared grief
Family members of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 held a candlelight prayer ceremony at the Beijing Lido Hotel on Tuesday for all those on board.
They lit 239 candles, each representing one person, in the prayer session that started at 0:41 am, the time the plane began its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing before disappearing on March 8.
The event was organized by the family members' committee.
In the past month, relatives have waited for hard evidence on the fate of their loved ones, with most of them staying at five Beijing hotels.
"Today marked one month since we lost our family members. We light candles just to pray for them," said Wang Guanyi, a representative of the committee, on Tuesday.
Before the ceremony, Wang expressed gratitude to rescuers, medical workers and the media.
He said that for the past month his life had changed completely and that joining the committee and helping others were ways to relieve his grief. Wang's mother, who had been visiting Malaysia, was on board the Boeing 777-200.
Many other relatives joined the committee to support each other at the Lido Hotel, where daily briefings are held for the families.
Bai Jie, 23, a college student from Tianjin, has been responsible for making and showing slides at the daily briefings.
Bai, whose mother was on the plane, halted her school studies to join the committee.
"I have to switch from emotional mode to rational mode from time to time to work on the committee," she said.
During the prayer ceremony, Wen Yan, whose husband was on the flight, kept looking at photos on her phone of happy moments spent with her spouse.
When the event ended at 8:11 am - the last time the plane sent signals to a satellite -Wang wept and collapsed. She was taken from the prayer room on a stretcher.
For most of the family members, the past month has been mixed with hope and disappointment, and they remain skeptical because no debris from the plane has been found.
They are continuing to press Malaysia Airlines and the Malaysian government to release more information on the search.
"A conclusion can only be made based on clues and evidence together," said Wang, the committee representative.