As authorities scour land and sea for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, the families of the 239 passengers and crew aboard Flight 370 can only wait in mounting frustration and dread.
In Beijing, the intended destination of the doomed flight, the anxiety and anguish are particularly acute: 153 passengers on the jet are Chinese. A global mystery has become a national tragedy.
Many relatives of the missing — mothers and fathers, wives and husbands — have been waiting at Beijing's Lido Hotel, where the airline has set up a crisis center.
The parents of 21-year-old Feng Dong, a migrant worker returning to China after leaving for Singapore four months ago, are utterly devastated. The slow drip of information has been agonizing.
"I cannot sleep. I cannot eat," Feng's father told NBC News. He hopes his son is alive.
The search for the Boeing 777-200 has dragged on for nine excruciating days — and families are getting angrier. They are desperate for leads, clues, hard facts — anything.
Malaysian authorities, meanwhile, have been scrutinized for apparently bungling key parts of the search. Chinese state media outlets have criticized Malaysia for long delays in answering questions.
"I am not satisfied. They are liars," Feng's father told NBC News, referring to Malaysian authorities.
Amid the distress, some families have been heartened by the biggest break in the investigation since the jet disappeared — the announcement Saturday that the flight veered sharply off course because of “deliberate action by someone on the plane,” communicated with satellites for hours after it disappeared and might have ended up thousands of miles away.
But the sister of missing passenger Paul Weeks, an engineer from New Zealand, said the announcement is a double-edged sword.
"I also find that very scary as well, because if someone has deliberately taken this plane, then they've taken it for a reason, and I think we know that oftentimes that's not good,” Sara Weeks told NBC News.