Nation & World News

The Passengers On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

By Krishnadev Calamur on March 15th, 2014

As the search continues for the Malaysia Airlines plane that’s been missing since last Saturday, we’re hearing stories about some of the 239 people on board.

There is Philip Wood, one of three Americans on the flight, who worked for IBM in the Chinese capital where he’d lived for two years. He was returning to Beijing after visiting family in Texas. Wood and his girlfriend, Sarah Bajc, were planning to move to Malaysia.

In an interview with CBS News, Bajc called Wood her soul mate. You can watch the interview below:

“We’re all sticking together,” Wood’s father, Aubrey Wood, told The New York Times. “What can you do? What can you say?”

The Associated Press spoke to Wood’s brothers, who recalled his devout Christian faith. In a Facebook post, Wood’s former wife, Elaine Wood, called him a “wonderful man” and requested privacy. They have two children, one a graduate of Texas A&M and another who attends the school.

The flight manifest gave Wood’s age as 51, though his family and Bajc said he was 50.

The other two Americans on the flight were children. Nicole Meng was 4 and Yan Zhang, 2. It’s unclear whom they were traveling with.

Also among the passengers: a group of two dozen Chinese painters and calligraphers returning home after an exhibition in Malaysia dedicated to the “Chinese Dream.” They included well-known calligrapher Zhang Jinquan, 72, and Maimaitijiang Abula, a 35-year-old artist and ethnic Uighur.

NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reported that Abula’s paintings were about Kashgar, his hometown. Anthony spoke to one of Abula’s friends who told him that the artist’s main interest, in Anthony’s words, “is capturing the colors and the textures of his Central Asian homeland on canvas.” Abula, his friend said, didn’t drink or smoke, was a Communist Party member but hadn’t completely abandoned his Islamic faith.

The Wall Street Journal has many details about the passengers, including the group of artists and calligraphers, as well as a Malaysian couple that was taking a delayed honeymoon. In a story, the BBC profiles the two Iranians traveling on stolen European passports seeking a better life in Europe, and also the U.K.-trained Chinese engineer who had taken up a prestigious position in Beijing.

Indian media have profiled the five Indian passengers on Flight 370 as well as the Indian-born Canadian who was returning to Beijing with his Chinese wife. Australian newspapers have the stories of the Australians and New Zealanders aboard the flight.

Flight 370 has 153 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French, three Americans and two people each from Canada, New Zealand and Ukraine. The two Iranians were traveling on stolen Austrian and Italian passports.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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