By Martin Quin Pollard and Thomas Suen
WUZHOU, China (Reuters) – As rescue teams sifted through the mud at the site of the China Eastern Airlines crash, dozens of family members of those aboard flight MU5735 stood nearby eagerly awaiting more news.
One was Qin Haitao, who comes from neighboring Hunan province.
Qin’s daughter, Shujun, was a passenger on Monday’s flight headed from the southwestern inland city of Kunming to the southeastern coastal city of Guangzhou, when it plummeted in a rural part of the Guangxi region, leaving no known survivors. .
Shujun, a 40-year-old migrant worker from Guangzhou, had traveled to Kunming to accompany her mother to see a specialist doctor she had heard was very good.
“We couldn’t believe it and didn’t dare to say anything, for fear my wife couldn’t bear it,” Qin said, describing the moment he heard the news of the accident on Monday.
“Our eyes were full of tears, but we did not dare to cry. In fact, we knew the truth, but we hid it for one night, half a day plus one night.”
Qin said he initially received no official confirmation of his daughter’s situation. But on Monday night, her brother-in-law rushed to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, where the flight was scheduled to arrive. There, he was shown a list of passenger names, which included Shujun’s.
On Tuesday, Qin, his son and two other people went to Wuzhou and the next day they visited the accident site accompanied by staff and volunteers from China Eastern.
“It’s so painful,” she gasped, holding back tears. “We have nothing but pain now… We live in pain every day.”
As of 10 a.m. Friday, 375 family members of the 132 people aboard flight MU5735 had visited the crash site, officials said.
Rescue teams reported finding human remains, pieces of passengers’ personal belongings, and aircraft debris.
“Many family members were burning incense,” Qin said of visiting the crash site.
“I prayed and put my daughter’s name on there. It happened to be her birthday that very day… so I said, ‘Dad came to see you, my daughter. Happy birthday.'”
After that site visit, Qin has mostly stayed at his hotel with his son, Shujun’s older brother and only brother.
Shujun herself leaves behind a teenage daughter.
“We don’t have any requests now,” Qin said.
“Our only request is to find my daughter’s body as soon as possible and bring her home.”
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard and Thomas Suen; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo and Stella Qiu; Editing by Sam Holmes)