Friends tell of fears as hopes dim for passengers on Malaysia Flight 370

Family members await word in Beijing
Family members await word in Beijing

    JUST WATCHED

    Family members await word in Beijing

MUST WATCH

Family members await word in Beijing 03:01

Story highlights

  • Reports of passengers come in from shocked families and friends
  • One man discovers two separate friends on the passenger manifest
  • Chinese relatives in Beijing increasingly frustrated as they wait for information
  • Malaysia Airlines offers to fly next of kin to Kuala Lumpur as the search continues

For Hasif Nazri, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 contained a tragic coincidence.

Two friends from two different periods of his life -- both unknown to each other -- were on board the flight. But as time goes by, the 33-year-old Malaysian process engineer says hope is fading.

"I was shocked, really shocked to be honest, but now that shock is turning to sadness," he told CNN. "Of course, I'm holding out some hope -- all we can do now is pray."

His former classmate, Mohd Sofuan Ibrahim, also 33 and Malaysian, was scheduled to report for duty at Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry branch office in Beijing -- even taking a Facebook photo before he boarded the plane.

READ MORE: Still no sign of Flight 370

"We were at the same residential school and we shared the same dorm and stuck together in the dining hall," he said. "He was a good, kind-hearted friend, very helpful, cheerful and definitely no wallflower. He was a very good speaker and teachers remembered him as a very good student."

Nazri then discovered another former classmate, 33-year-old Ch'ng Mei Ling, was also on board Flight 370.

Search area for missing plane widens
Search area for missing plane widens

    JUST WATCHED

    Search area for missing plane widens

MUST WATCH

Search area for missing plane widens 02:34
Authorities 'puzzled' by missing flight
Authorities 'puzzled' by missing flight

    JUST WATCHED

    Authorities 'puzzled' by missing flight

MUST WATCH

Authorities 'puzzled' by missing flight 03:00
Are flight recorders 'antiquated?'
Are flight recorders 'antiquated?'

    JUST WATCHED

    Are flight recorders 'antiquated?'

MUST WATCH

Are flight recorders 'antiquated?' 04:37
International crews search for plane
International crews search for plane

    JUST WATCHED

    International crews search for plane

MUST WATCH

International crews search for plane 03:55

He said that Mei Ling, a Malaysian national who worked as a process engineer at Flexsys America LP, a manufacturer and supplier of chemicals for the rubber industry based in Ohio, would always be remembered as a "very cheerful girl."

"She was very adaptable -- we had a lot of course work that we had to do together and she was very easy to work with," he said. "She was also very funny. As a Chinese person she used to like playing with the Malay language; her laugh was very infectious."

Desperate for information

In Mumbai, 23-year-old technology graduate Archit Joshi was also desperately seeking information about his classmate Swawand Kolekar who was listed aboard Flight 370. He said Kolekar's family were in Beijing and also desperate for information on their son.

"Swawand was very reserved but very, very intelligent," Joshi told CNN. "He was a bit of a techno-freak and he made a lot of circuits and projects at engineering college.

"He didn't have many friends, he was a bit of a loner, but he had all the attributes a good friend should have."

In China, meanwhile, home to most of the 239 people on board, relatives of passengers were increasingly frustrated Monday as the agonizing wait for news continued.

More than 100 people signed a hand-written petition demanding "the truth" from the airline by Sunday evening. They also urged the Chinese government to help them deal with Malaysian authorities.

Zhang Guizhi, the aunt of passenger Li Yan, told CNN that she had arrived in Beijing from her native Henan province in central China and remained uncertain about how the airline would help her obtain a passport to travel to wherever the plane is found.

She started crying when she mentioned her 31-year-old niece had traveled to Malaysia with her husband and four friends on vacation.

"Still no information and still waiting -- I'm not happy with the airline's arrangements so far," she said.

A man who identified himself as the brother-in-law of passenger Ding Lijun said he had just arrived from Tianjin, approximately an hour south-east of Beijing. He teared up when he said Ding had been working in Malaysia as a construction worker for a year and was making his first trip home.

Opinion: When passenger jets mysteriously disappear

Flights to Malaysia

In Kuala Lumpur, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, CEO of Malaysia Airlines, said the carrier was making arrangements to fly next of kin to the country's capital as the search for Flight 370 continues.

"We'll be accommodating them in hotels around Kuala Lumpur," he said. "We have made an offer for two next of kin to be flown immediately."

Increasingly frustrated relatives in China, however, continued to demand more information. Some blamed the Chinese government, which they claimed had not come forward.

"I'm not going home until I know what happened," said the father of one of the passengers named as Yan Ling. "We've lost loved ones and they need to answer our questions. When are you going to tell us and what are you going to do? We still don't know if they are alive or dead."

Grief counselors were on hand in Beijing and in Kuala Lumpur to assist relatives.

"We have dispatched about 15 volunteers to Beijing," said deputy CEO of the Buddhist group Tzu Chi, Sio Kee Hong. "In Malaysia, we have mobilized about 60 people on a daily basis, 24 hours a day. We have volunteers providing care to the families.

"Those with frustrations, we will be with them physically (and) provide whatever assistance is required ... psychological support is the most important thing at this juncture."

READ MORE: What we know so far

      Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

    • nr intv moni basu husbands quiet suffering flight 370_00020822.jpg

      An empty space on earth

      His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
    • This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.

      Is this the sound of the crash?

      Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
    •  A crew member of a Royal New Zealand Airforce (RNZAF) P-3K2-Orion aircraft helps to look for objects during the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in flight over the Indian Ocean on April 13, 2014 off the coast of Perth, Australia. S

      Search back to square one

      What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
    • Caption:A Chinese relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 uses a lighter as she prays at the Metro Park Hotel in Beijing on April 8, 2014. The hunt for physical evidence that the Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in the Indian Ocean more than three weeks ago has turned up nothing, despite a massive operation involving seven countries and repeated sightings of suspected debris. AFP PHOTO/WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

      Bring in the lawyers

      Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
    • The painstaking search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 got a vote of confidence Friday that the effort is headed in the right direction, but officials noted that much work remains.
Credit: 	CNN

      Pings likely not from Flight 370

      Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
    • INDIAN OCEAN (April 14, 2014) -- Operators aboard ADF Ocean Shield move U.S. Navy's Bluefin-21 into position for deployment, April 14. Using side scan sonar, the Bluefin will descend to a depth of between 4,000 and 4,500 meters, approximately 35 meters above the ocean floor. It will spend up to 16 hours at this depth collecting data, before potentially moving to other likely search areas. Joint Task Force 658 is currently supporting Operation Southern Indian Ocean, searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter D. Blair/RELEASED)

      Underwater search on hold

      The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
    • Movie-makers say they have recruited leading Hollywood technicians to bring their experience to mid-air flight sequences.

      An MH370 movie already?

      Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
    • The story of the search

      The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.