- Hundreds of MH370 relatives thrown together through tragedy
- News from overseas is avidly watched, but all too often disappointing
- Families resigned to an indeterminate wait
- Informal support group lends comfort to families
They were strangers fourteen days ago. Now they are part of an enormous family -- almost 500, thrown together by tragedy. Every day, they come to the ballroom at Beijing's Lido Hotel, which has turned into an expansive meeting spot.
Thursday afternoon's news conference out of Australia brings them back, filing into rows of seats. They listen intently as it is televised on a big screen and as details emerge, the relatives of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's passengers sit up straight and lean forward, hanging on every word: "Debris...Credible...Possible."
Taking a long look around the room gives a harrowing portrait of what they have been going through -- a couple holding hands, a middle-age woman with her mouth frozen into an expressionless straight line, a man's hollow stare. Pure exhaustion.
A few minutes after the news conference ends, I ask one man his thoughts.
He replies, "I cannot think about anything. I just wait." He does his waiting alongside the others with smartphones in hand. They're constantly checking in -- with relatives, and with the new friends they've been thrown together with in the past week and a half.
Many of them have formed a support group, to take up the slack from the Malaysian government and the airline, who they accuse of not doing enough.
A new message board has been put up, and in just a few hours, it is covered in messages.
"Dear dad, please come back safe," one reads. "I just want to see your face, hold your hands, and hear your teachings."