Missing Malaysia plane: The passengers on board MH370

Among the 239 people on board flight MH370, which disappeared on 8 March, was a party of Chinese calligraphers, a couple returning to their young sons after a beach getaway and a construction worker making his first trip home in a year.

There were 14 nationalities represented in the 227 passengers and 12 crew travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The majority - 153 people - were Chinese.

Here are some of their stories.

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Seeking a new life in Europe

Suspicions of a terror link to the disappearance of the aircraft were rejected by Malaysian authorities once the true identities of the men carrying the stolen passports of Italian Luigi Maraldi and Austrian Christian Kozel became known.

Malaysian police handout photographs of 19-year-old Iranian Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad (L) and an unidentified man (R) who both boarded missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight using stolen passports. Police released pictures of Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, left, and Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza

They were both young Iranian men seeking a new life in Europe far from home.

Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad, 18, was hoping to join his mother in Germany. He chose a long and circuitous route from Iran to Kuala Lumpur, to transit through Beijing and onwards to Amsterdam and then Frankfurt.

"His mother was waiting for him," officials said, confirming she had been in touch with the authorities.

Hundreds of comments have been left on his Facebook page. He had posted a status update of "feeling excited" upon his arrival at Kuala Lumpur from the city of Karaj in Iran two weeks before.

Group shot Pouria Nour Mohammad Mehrdad is second from the left. Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, on the far right, travelled with him on the missing plane.

Interpol identified the other man as Delavar Seyed Mohammadreza, 29, but less is known about his origins.

A young Iranian in Kuala Lumpur, Mohammad, told the BBC that both men had stayed with him before taking the Malaysia Airlines flight, and that they had hoped to settle in Europe.

"They were nervous," Mohammad told the BBC's Jonathan Head. They checked in separately. But he insists they were not terrorists.

"They were young like me," he said. "Pouria was quiet, nice, he was never naughty. So was his friend. I heard them talking - they wanted to go to Europe to seek asylum."

He said that Pouria's mother had been calling from Hamburg ever since MH370 vanished, asking how her son was during his brief stay in Malaysia.

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Prominent engineer in a new job
Yuchen Li studied at Churchill College. His wife, who was not on the flight, is still studying there. Dr Yuchen Li, left, was on the flight, but his wife was not

Dr Yuchen Li recently finished his doctoral engineering degree from Cambridge University.

The university confirmed that he had recently begun working in a prominent "geotechnical position" in Beijing.

"Yuchen was a hugely talented and likeable person with a brilliant career ahead of him," a spokesman at Cambridge said.

Dr Li had only recently married, but his wife, Mingei Ma, was not on the flight with him, Cambridge News says.

A Facebook page from Churchill College congratulated the couple on their recent marriage in Hubei, China, adding: "We think they look fabulous!"

Dr Li previously studied civil engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing, reports say.

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A generation of distinguished calligraphers

Manifest for Flight MH370

  • 153 Chinese
  • 38 Malaysians
  • 7 Indonesians
  • 6 Australians
  • 5 Indians
  • 4 French
  • 3 Americans
  • 2 each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada
  • One each from Russia, Taiwan, Netherlands
  • Two men - one confirmed as Iranian - travelling under stolen Italian and Austrian passports

Source: Malaysia Airlines

A feted group of 24 Chinese artists and five staff accompanying them were returning home after attending a cultural exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. They came from all over China: Jiangsu, Sichuan and also Xinjiang province.

Among them was the oldest person on board, 79-year-old Lou Baotang, whose calligraphy has been included in dictionaries by many cultural institutions in China, Britain and the US, state media say.

He was on the plane with Zhao Zhao Fang, a 73-year-old calligrapher and retired professor who had collected a litany of titles for her work.

The wife of Memetjan Abra, a Uighur painter on board, told Xinhua news agency that she was able to speak to him briefly before his flight.

"He is a good painter, husband and father," she said.

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Returning home to their sons

Muktesh Mukherjee, 42, an Indian-born Canadian employed by US firm XCoal, met his wife, Bai Xiaomo, while on business trip in China in 2002, reports in Canada say.

They lived in Montreal before moving to Beijing.

The couple were heading home to Beijing after a beach getaway in Vietnam. Bai Xiaomo, 37, had posted pictures of their holiday shortly before boarding their flight.

The couple's two young sons were waiting for them at home.

Mr Mukherjee's grandfather, a former Indian government minister, died in a plane crash outside New Delhi in the 1970s.

His family were praying the couple had not suffered the same fate: "Miracles do happen. We pray it will happen this time and Muktesh will come back to us," his uncle, Manoj Mukherjee, in India told AFP news agency.

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On a delayed honeymoon

Arni Marlina, 36, a family member of a passenger onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, shows a family picture on her mobile phone, at a hotel in Putrajaya 9 March 2014. Marlina's stepbrother Muhammad Razahan Zamani (bottom, right), 24, and his wife Norli Akmar Hamid, 33, were on their honeymoon on the missing flight Razahan Zamani, bottom right, and his wife Norli Akmar Hamid, were on their delayed honeymoon

Norli Akmar Hamid, 33, and her husband Razahan Zamani, 24, from Malaysia met while working at a supermarket chain in Kuala Lumpur, local reports say.

They decided to get married in 2012 and were on a long-delayed honeymoon trip to Beijing.

A relative told Malaysian state news agency Bernama that the couple planned the holiday after Ms Norli suffered a miscarriage.

Before the trip, Ms Norli posted a picture on social media of one of her cats sitting on her suitcase.

The Wall Street Journal quoted friends as saying that this was the couple's first time on a plane.

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On the way to new jobs
This undated photo provided by the Wood family shows Philip Wood, an IBM executive who was aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing over the South China Sea on 8 March 2014 American Philip Wood, an IBM employee, was also on the Malaysia Airlines flight

IBM executive Philip Wood, 50, originally from Texas, was one of three Americans on the plane.

Mr Wood - an avid traveller - had just been transferred to Malaysia and was excited about the new beginning, his younger brother James told the Wall Street Journal.

It was his last planned trip to Beijing before settling in Kuala Lumpur. He has two sons from a previous marriage who are based in Texas, reports say.

"We are all sticking together," his father, Aubrey Wood, told the New York Times. "What can you do? What can you say?"

Another passenger on the way to a new job was mechanical engineer Paul Weeks from New Zealand.

The former soldier moved his family to Perth, Australia, after the devastating earthquakes in Christchurch, reports say.

Before he left home, he took off his wedding ring and watch and gave them to his wife for his two young sons.

Vigil in Kuala Lumpur (10 March 2014) A vigil for the missing passengers has been held in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur

"If something should happen to me then the wedding ring should go to the first son that gets married and the watch to the second," his wife Danica Weeks was quoted by media as saying.

Malaysian Mohd Sofuan Ibrahim was reportedly heading to Beijing to report for duty at Malaysia's Ministry of International Trade and Industry branch office there.

His father, Ibrahim Abdul Razak, told Malaysia's state news agency Bernama that the 33-year-old had never disappointed him. Mr Sofuan was to have held his post in Beijing for six months, Bernama adds.

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Friends on a journey

A veteran martial arts expert and stunt double for actor Jet Li was also on board flight MH370.

According to reports, 35-year-old Ju Kun - who had worked on films such as The Forbidden Kingdom - was in Malaysia choreographing a production.

He was on the plane with Chinese national Ding Lijun, who had moved to Malaysia about a year ago to work on construction sites, and was making his first trip home to Beijing since then, a relative told US media.

Nine of those on the plane were old friends, pensioners who made a journey to Nepal, and were on their way back home.

Australian couple Mary and Rodney Burrows are also among the missing. Their son, Jayden, said his family was "heartbroken this stage of their life has been cut short".

Mary and Rodney Burrows Reports say passengers Mary and Rodney Burrows had been married for 30 years

Reports say they had been travelling with friends and fellow passengers Catherine and Robert Lawton.

Mr Lawton's brother, Robert, said: "Dad phoned this morning and said 'Bobby's plane's missing'. I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe it. We just want to know where it is, where the plane's come down, if there's anything left."

Rodney Burrows had planned his trip to China after being laid off last year, Australian Associated Press reports.

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The youngest

At just 23 months old, Wang Moheng was one of the youngest passengers on board flight MH370. He was returning from a week's holiday in Malaysia with his mother Jiao Weiwei, 32, and father, Wang Rui, 35.

Two of his grandparents were also on board the plane.

The families of other children at Moheng's day care centre joined his family in Malaysia, but returned on separate flights, the New York Times reports.

His family reportedly said they were trying to get away "from the bad air in Beijing for a while".

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Lost generations

The Wall Street Journal reports that many members of the same families were lost on flight MH370.

Six members of one Chinese family are missing, the paper says, including a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, who were both US citizens.

French national Laurence Wattrelos, 52, was returning from a beach holiday in Malaysia with two of her three children, Hadrien, 17, and Ambre, 14.

Hadrien's girlfriend, Zhao Yan, 18, was also on board.

Reports say the French teenagers had been attending the French school in Beijing and that Laurence was active in the school's parent-teacher association.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Laurence's husband, Ghyslain Wattrelos, flew into Beijing from Paris the same day flight MH370 went missing, and was expecting to be reunited with his family.

He was instead met by two French diplomats, who broke the news of the missing flight.

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The co-workers

Also on the plane were 20 staff members from a US technology company, Freescale Semiconductor, which makes powerful microchips for industries, including defence.

Twelve employees were from Malaysia and eight were from China. The company said it was "deeply saddened" by the news, in a statement on its website.

A sign for Freescale Semiconductor is seen in this photo from Austin, Texas on 9 March 2014. The Austin-based company said 20 of its employees were on the flight

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