Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: families of passengers left to ponder the worst

The families of two missing Australian couples huddled around television screens on Thursday afternoon, fearing authorities would confirm that the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had been found. News that satellite images had detected possible debris from the plane all but dashed their hopes their loved ones would be found alive.

Bob and Cathy Lawton were travelling with their friends Rod and Mary Burrows on flight MH370, which disappeared hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing early on Saturday, March 8.

Mr Burrows' brother Greg Burrows said he travelled home from work early to watch a televised news conference about the discovery of two objects bobbing in waters off the Australian coast.

But the Australian Maritime Safety Authority could not confirm if the objects located were debris from the missing plane.

"We get our hopes up for an answer even and then we got nothing again," Mr Burrows said.

"It's been up and down, up and down, up and down."

Mr Lawton's brother David Lawton declined to comment, saying only that he was at home with his extended family, having just watched the news conference.

The information, described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as "new and credible", comes after a fortnight of theories and false leads that have tormented the families of those on board.

Earlier this week, Mr Lawton said he felt "empty" not knowing what happened to his brother and sister-in-law. "If they found the wreckage of the plane, then that would be finalised because there's no hope. But while you've got hope, you've got worries too. Because if they're alive, are they being treated well, or what's happening?" he said on Sunday.

Sydney couple Yuan Li and Naijun Gu, and Perth-based New Zealander Paul Weeks, were also among the 239 people on the flight.

Sara Weeks, whose brother Paul Weeks was aboard the missing flight, said she and her family members from Christchurch were closely monitoring the news. However, they were not jumping to any conclusions following the news conference.

The family had been taking all of the reports about the aircraft's plight seriously, however contradictory or speculative, but "we're not going to get too excited until they confirm anything".

Weeks said it was "sensible" of the Australian authorities to take a cautious approach to their latest announcement.

"Until they can tell us something concrete, we'll just continue to plod along like we have been. You can't say something is confirmed – that it's part of the plane, until you know," she said.

"It gets your heart racing . . . I will tell you that, but it could just be nothing. We don't know and neither do they.

"I guess if there is some confirmed news and we find out that it is the plane then, yes . . . it will give us something to grieve over, because we don't have that yet," she said. "It's a horrible situation. It just is. Everything is still up in the air. It's always on your mind."

The story Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: families of passengers left to ponder the worst first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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