Family of Texas man on Malaysia Airlines flight comforted by faith

KELLER, Texas (AP) -- The brothers of a North Texas man who was aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing over the South China Sea said Sunday their family is leaning on faith and holding out hope for good news about the man they last saw about a week ago.

Philip Wood, an IBM executive who had been working in Beijing over the past two years, had recently returned home from Asia before his next assignment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wood came back to Texas to visit his family before relocating to the Malaysian capital, his brother, James Wood said.

The Saturday flight was supposed to be his final one to China's capital. James Wood told the Associated Press during an interview at the family's home in the Dallas suburb of Keller, Texas, that Philip Wood was supposed to make the final arrangements there for his relocation to Malaysia.

"This was going to be his last trip to Beijing. It just happened to be this one," James Wood said.

"There is a shock, a very surreal moment in your life," Wood added.

"Last Sunday, we were all having breakfast together. And now, you can't," he said during a phone interview earlier in the day, as the family got ready to attend church. Their faith, he said, is what's helping the family through this trying time.

"My brother, our family, we are Christians. Christ above else is what's keeping us together," he said.

Philip Wood, 50, was one of three Americans who were aboard the Boeing 777 when it lost contact with air traffic control as it was cruising on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members. It isn't known with whom the other two Americans, Nicole Meng, 4, and Yan Zhang, 2, were traveling.

James Wood described his brother, a technical storage executive at IBM Malaysia, as an "outgoing, gregarious, friendly, loving man" who was excited about moving to Malaysia.

"He loved to travel while he was over there. His job gave him the opportunity to do that," James Wood said.

James Wood said that his brother is divorced and that one of his sons attends Texas A&M University and that another is an alumnus of that university.

He also pointed out that, along with his brother, members of hundreds of other families were aboard Flight MH370.

"I just wanted to say to all the other families that are around the world: We're hurting. We know you're hurting just as much, and we're praying for you," he said.

The family has been contacted by the U.S. Department of State and the embassy in Malaysia, Wood added.

A second brother, Tom Wood, said the events have left "a real hole in our family," but he said they aren't giving up hope.

"You never know," he said. "I'm not gonna close that door until we need to close it completely."

So far, no explanation as to what happened to the plane is available. There was no distress signal before the plane vanished from the radar.

The family is watching CNN, BBC and other news stations, waiting for small pieces of information as they trickle down, he said.

But, "with a situation like this, when a plane just disappears ... it leaves you with a lot of questions," he said.

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AP writer Juan Carlos Llorca contributed from El Paso.
 

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