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July 18, 2014 at 6:59 AM

At air show, Malaysians cope with ‘incomprehensible’ news

Salmah Hayati Ghazali deputy director general of a Malaysian government development agency

Salmah Hayati Ghazali,
deputy director general of a Malaysian government development agency

At the Malaysia pavilion inside one of the exhibition halls here at Farnborough on Friday, tears welled in the eyes of Salmah Hayti Ghazali, a Malaysian goverment official, as she spoke to me about the shocking and cruel news that came late yesterday.

“It’s incomprehensible,” she said. “We did not think this could happen. It was out of our minds.”

“It’s no fault of ours,” Ms. Salmah said, struggling to find a better word than “unfair” to describe the murder of of 298 innocent travelers.

“I do feel the world is with us,”she said. “When I came this morning and I saw every flag at half mast, that was something consoling.”

The downing of the 777 has cast a pall over Farnborough.

The rows of international flags lining the entrances to Farnborough are at half mast today, in mourning over the tragedy.

And Boeing canceled the planned flight display of its 787-9.

Yet the living must go on. Ms. Salmah, deputy director general of MARA, a Malaysian government development agency, was at the Air Show Friday to welcome a group of about a dozen young Malaysian engineering students who attend universities around the U.K.

Flags fly at half mast at Farnborough on Friday, in mourning for the loss of 298 innocent people aboard a 777 passenger jet.

“We are here with a mission,” Ms. Salmah said of her week at the Air Show that has ended in such sadness. “We want to offer a good place for business to grow in Southeast Asia, which is the place for aerospace to grow.”

“But today, this is quiet,” she said.

The university students gathered at the center of the Malaysian stand, talking and taking photos.

Ainaa Mohd Nor, 24, studying at Glyndwr University in Wales, drove up for the Air Show tour Friday morning.

She said she’s disturbed at not knowing how it happened and why, and hopes action can be taken against those responsible.

Her family had gotten in touch with her on hearing the news. “They advised me to take care,” she said. “But they didn’t stop me to fly.”

Ms. Salmah is visiting the Air Show with a colleague from Malaysia and with three more from her agency’s U.K. office. She first heard the news of Flight MH17 about 4:30 p.m. London time yesterday, via Twitter. Her family called her immediately also.

A group of Malaysian students studying at U.K. universities visit the Farnborough Air Show Friday. Ainaa Mohd Nor is fourth from the left in the black headscarf.

A group of Malaysian students studying at U.K. universities visit the Farnborough Air Show Friday. Ainaa Mohd Nor is fourth from the left in the black headscarf.

Later, she and her colleagues watched Malaysian Prime Minister give a statement on TV. She said they saw how he felt, his emotions.

Sharing that feeling with Malaysian’s everywhere “also helped us,” Ms. Salmah said.

She flies back to Kuala Lumpur tonight.

Comments | More in 777, Boeing, Farnborough Air Show 2014, MH17

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