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Sunday March 9, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday March 9, 2014 MYT 2:21:09 PM
by andy chua AND edwin nissom
A mother waits: Catherine (right) watching the news on TV with her niece. — ANDY CHUA / The Star
SIBU: Tuai Rumah Catherine Tamoh is praying hard for the safety of her chief steward son who was among 239 people aboard the MAS flight MH370 that was reported missing while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early yesterday.
The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. The passengers include 153 Chinese nationals, including one infant, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, seven Australians, three French nationals, four from the US, including one infant, two from New Zealand, two Canadians, two Russians, one Italian, one Taiwanese, one from the Netherlands and one Austrian.
Met at her residence, Catherine said her son Andrew Nari had sent her an SMS at 11.03pm on Friday night, an hour before the plane departed for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“It was just a normal SMS telling me that his plane would fly off soon. Before that he used to call me very often,” she said.
Little did she know that it could be his last text message to her. She woke up yesterday receiving the sad news at about 8am from her other son in Kuala Lumpur.
When the news was related to her, she kept herself updated by watching the television with family members by her side.
She was also in the dark as to how the incident happened as no one had briefed her.
Andrew is Catherine’s eldest son. She has another son and two daughters.
When asked to describe Andrew, she said: “All my children are very nice and very responsible people.”
According to her, Andrew is married with two children — an 18-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. The wife is also a local Iban.
His family has been residing in Kuala Lumpur since he started work as a steward for the airline in 1998.
“He is flying mostly to international destinations which include Europe, Asia, and America,” she said, adding that Andrew used to be home quite often, especially during Gawai Dayak and also Christmas.
However, she had to cut short the conversation as she was too distraught to talk further.
Meanwhile, a former colleague of three crew members of the missing plane was shocked and numbed when told that it had gone missing.
The former stewardess, in her early 40s who did not wished to be named, said she had flown with Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, in-flight supervisor Patrick Francis Gomes and Andrew on numerous international routes.
She could not control her tears when she was informed of the news by her husband around 8am yesterday.
“I was shocked. I prayed that the flight would be OK as the captain is a very experienced pilot,” she said, referring to Zaharie, who has more than 18,000 flying hours under his belt.
She described Zaharie as a DIY (do it yourself) person and very humble.
“He loves (anything to do with) wood. Does his own decking. Installs his own chandelier.”
She remembered Patrick as a happy go lucky chap as well as a dedicated crew member.
Andrew, on the other hand,
was also a dedicated person and very experienced, the ex-colleague said.
“He loves football. If I’m not wrong, he supports (English Premier League side) Liverpool FC.”
Declining to comment further, she ended by saying that she would continue to pray for the safety of everyone aboard.
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