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Plane bore painters, pilgrims, others from around the world

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Sun March 9, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Philip Wood, an Oklahoma Christian grad, is among those missing
  • NEW: "So many families around the world are affected," his family says
  • State media: Most passengers were Chinese, including a group of artists
  • At least three U.S. citizens were on the plane

(CNN) -- A delegation of painters and calligraphers, a group of Buddhists returning from a religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur, a three-generation family, nine senior travelers and five toddlers.

Most of the 227 passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were Chinese, according to the airline's flight manifest. The 12 missing crew members on the flight that disappeared early Saturday were Malaysian.

Other passengers were from India, Indonesia, Australia, the United States, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia and the Netherlands, the airline said.

The airline's list showed the passengers hailed from 14 countries, but later it was learned that two people named on the manifest -- an Austrian and an Italian -- whose passports had been stolen were not aboard the plane. The plane was carrying five children under 5 years old, the airline said.

On Saturday, Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor confirmed that 20 employees were passengers on Flight 370. Twelve are from Malaysia and eight from China, the company said.

"At present, we are solely focused on our employees and their families," Gregg Lowe, Freescale's president and CEO, said in the statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic event."

A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8. A policewoman watches a couple whose son was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the airline's office building in Beijing after officials refused to meet with them on Wednesday, June 11. The jet has been missing since March 8.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
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Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Photos: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Officials to families: Prepare for worst
Official: Lost jet 'may have turned back'
Airline: Passengers from 14 countries
Stolen passports raise terror concerns

First officer was transitioning to 777-200s

Later, the company tweeted: "Your thoughtful words and prayers for Freescale families and friends affected by MH370 give comfort."

The company was making counselors available with around-the-clock support for employees affected by the tragedy, the statement said.

The 154 passengers from China (including Taiwan) included a group of painters and calligraphers and Buddhists returning from a religious gathering, Chinese state media reported.

Relatives of the Chinese citizens aboard gathered Saturday at a hotel complex in the Lido district of Beijing as a crowd of reporters gathered outside.

"My son was only 40 years old," one woman wailed as she was led inside. "My son, my son. What am I going to do?"

Agonized families await answers

Family members were kept in a hotel conference room, where media outlets had no access. Most of the family members have so far refused to talk to reporters.

An Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman said a man listed on the airline's manifest is safe and was never aboard the aircraft. The Austrian national's passport was stolen two years ago, Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Weiss said.

Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aldo Amati also said no one from his country was on the plane, even though an Italian was on the manifest. Malaysian officials said they were aware of reports the Italian's passport had been stolen, but had not confirmed that.

U.S. nationals on the plane's manifest were identified by the airline as Philip Wood, 51; Nicole Meng, 4; and Yan Zhang, 2.

A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed Saturday that three U.S. citizens were aboard the aircraft. Embassy officials were trying to determine whether additional U.S. citizens were on the flight.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. "Officials from the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are in contact with the individuals' families. Out of respect for them, we are not providing additional information at this time."

Among them is Philip Wood, who graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 1985 according to school spokeswoman Risa Forrester. He earned a bachelor of science degree, concentrating in math and computer science, and belonged to the Delta Gamma Sigma service organization, Forrester said.

On Oklahoma Christian's Facebook page, one woman lamented the "heartbreaking news" while a man remembered Wood as "gentle, kind, had great taste in music and was a wonderful artist."

"Philip Wood was a man of God, a man of honor and integrity. His word was gold," his family said in a statement. "Incredibly generous, creative and intelligent, Phil cared about people, his family, and above all, Christ.

"Though our hearts are hurting, we know so many families around the world are affected just as much as us by this terrible tragedy."

Stolen passports raise possibility of terrorism in missing flight

CNN's Steven Jiang, Bharati Naik, Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.

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