More than 100 colleagues of some of the passengers on board the ill-fated missing Malaysia Airlines jet, have sought assistance from a counselling group in Hong Kong.
Timothy To Wing-ching, executive director of the Post Crisis Counselling Network, said most of the callers had signs of direct post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as they had “close relations” with an unknown number of colleagues on the missing plane.
They were among about 300 employees of three multinational firms who had been emotionally troubled by the fate of their colleagues since they disappeared on March 8, To said. He added that some of their colleagues were managers.
To’s group is a Hong Kong-based charitable organisation which took part in relief efforts to help survivors from the catastrophic Sichuan earthquake in 2008.
The group has been helping staff from the companies through a telephone hotline. On Wednesday, it launched a new hotline for the public.
To said the group originally had no plan to deploy personnel to services for victims’ families after liaising with its counterparts on the mainland, but a call for help from a victim’s colleague in Hong Kong changed his mind.
Since the flight’s disappearance, Lui Ching, 44, has been confirmed as the sole Hong Kong resident on board. Lui had arrived in Hong Kong from the mainland on a one-way permit and obtained residency after spending seven years in the city. Her daughter in Beijing said she had mostly lived in the capital before coming to Hong Kong.
“We were so surprised after picking up the first call for assistance 14 days ago, and calls have flooded in ever since,” To said. More than 100 calls have been received by Wednesday.
Four post-crisis counsellors will be taking calls on the public hotline at 5181 5501 from 10am to 6pm until April 30, and messages will be taken after these hours.
“It is worth setting up a hotline for the public as I’m worried that [the calls received so far] was just the tip of the iceberg. We don’t know how many members of the public are familiar with the people on board,” To said.