missing persons

Daughter of man who vanished on MH370 thinks her father and everyone else on the missing plane is still alive

Maira Elizabeth Nari captured international attention when she began tweeting to her father, a crew member, amid the confusion in the days after Flight MH370 disappeared in March 2014


After a long day of work last March, Maira Elizabeth Nari, 18 at the time, returned home from her job as a hostess at an upscale Kuala Lumpur hotel. Her father, Andrew Nari, a chief steward for Malaysia Airlines, was about to leave for Kuala Lumpur International Airport to catch a routine flight to Beijing. Maira’s mother and younger brother were accompanying Nari to the airport to see him off. He asked if she wanted to join. 

“I told him I was tired,” Maira recalls in an email conversation with Women in the World. “He said ‘OK,’ then he said he’d see me once he comes back.” 

“Bye,” her father said as he walked out the door. 

The next day, Maira was back working at the hotel and a colleague mentioned that a jetliner had gone missing. “While I was on my break, I heard someone was talking about an aeroplane [that] went missing,” she remembers. Without any specific details and tired from another long shift, Maira thought little of it, left work and headed home. Once there, a friend phoned and asked Maira about the whereabouts of her father. Was he aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight? He was flying to Beijing, right? the friend inquired.

Maira hung up at once and called her mother, still in disbelief that her father could’ve been on the flight that went missing. In a tragic instant, her world was shattering. Her mother answered. She had just learned that Andrew Nari was indeed on Flight MH370, she told Maira, confirming the worst case scenario.

“I broke down,” Maira said. “About 10 minutes later I started tweeting.”

For Maira, tweeting had always been about as routine as breathing. She’d posted messages on Twitter about ‘everything’ in her life up until then, she says. Indeed, she’s logged more than 68,000 posts on Twitter at the time of this writing. So it was natural for her to turn to the social media platform in what was suddenly the biggest crisis of her life.  

God…. The only thing I want is my father….. Nothing, but my father. I want my father back. :'(” was her first MH370-related post on Twitter. What followed was a heartbreaking stream of consciousness from a young woman trying to make sense of an unthinkable mystery that puzzled and captivated the world — and trying to remain hopeful amid it all that her dad would come home safe and sound. Her plight immediately resonated with people as each new tweet garnered more retweets and favorites than the one before it.

A post with a photo of her father and the message, “Daddy. You’re all over the news and papers. Come home fast, so you could read them! Don’t you feel excited? :’D” captured, from a unique personal perspective, the surreal nature of the mystery and the media obsession with it. It was retweeted almost 20,000 times.

Two days later, her tweets had turned decidedly more desperate. 

Don’t forget to eat your dinner. Because remember, your family members are waiting. Stay strong, and know that you’ll come home, daddy :’)” she wrote.

A defensive tone even emerged in several tweets. The vast majority of the responses Maira received on social media were positive, supportive. But in the news media, conjecture was centering on the pilots or the crew as likely culprits in the jumbo jet’s vexing disappearance. 

She defended MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and responded to that speculation with, “If you have nothing nice to say about the crew, just leave. You know nothing. Above all things, God knows better. Thank you very much.

A week after the plane disappeared, as the mystery deepened, desperation became more evident in her tweets. “It’s the 7th day, and we’re here waiting for you. We miss you so much, dad. So much. ;’)” But hope persisted as she posted a message that seemed to be meant both for her dad and for the thousands watching on Twitter. “That feeling inside me…, I just know that he’ll come back.

At one point, she had to clarify that she was the daughter of the chief steward and not the daughter of Captain Shah.

To view all of the messages Maira Elizabeth Nari posted in the first week of the hunt for MH370 on Twitter, click here. Or to view them on the Women in the World website, click here.

The news media, clamoring to satisfy the public’s growing appetite for all of the many angles on MH370, noticed Maira’s emotional outpouring. Her story was picked up by numerous international outlets and went viral. She was an instant social media sensation, which only complicated the weird mix of emotions she was experiencing. 

“I was shocked to know that I made the headlines,’ she recalls. “All the years I tweeted, no one cared. And suddenly … attention’s all on me.”

Global interest in the MH370 story diminished about two months after the plane’s disappearance and Maira was caught in a continuously surreal state where she and her family were still following the futile search, but life was marching on. Milestones came and milestones went, and still there was no resolution for Maira and her family. She began college last May at a school in Subang Jaya, about 12 miles outside of Kuala Lumpur, where she’s studying mass communications. 

Her father is a huge fan of the Liverpool pro soccer team in England. Someone associated with the team heard about her story and arranged for the team’s coach and some players to sign a game jersey for her. In August, as her 19th birthday approached, she shared an old photo of her father holding her when she was a toddler, with a touching message: “You know it’s my birthday soon, so, why don’t you come before my birthday, aye? Missing a father’s love.

Later in the year, photos of people wearing crude MH370 Halloween costumes began surfacing online, and Maira once again took to the social media platform to condemn the costumes, likening them to people mocking the 9/11 attacks. Last month, on her father’s 50th birthday, she posted a poignant note on Twitter with an Instagram photo of her father playing in snow.

Throughout her conversation with Women in the World, Maira often mentioned God (a recurring theme in her Twitter feed, too) and her Catholic faith, both of which she credits as sources of strength and calm during her ordeal.

A year later, Maira remains just as hopeful as she was the first week that the plane was missing. “I believe that they are all alive,’ she declares, adding that she thinks the Boeing 777 was hijacked. “It’s just not logical that a big plane that size can disappear just like that. So, there must be something fishy somewhere.” It’s a sentiment that echoes the feelings of many of the relatives of passengers aboard MH370 — that the official narrative put forth by the authorities and Malaysia Airlines is bogus or, at best, not the whole truth. But she stops short of casting criticism in their direction. 

More than anything, Maira simply misses her dad, who she says found the Malaysia Airlines job to be tiring but rewarding because he was able to experience cultures all over the world. She describes him as a foodie and says the two would often traverse Kuala Lumpur in search of new and interesting places to dine.

On March 8, the one-year anniversary of MH370’s disappearance, her mother, brother and she prayed together and paid tribute to her father by visiting his favorite restaurant for dinner. And the family has left Nari’s closet, with all of his belongings, the way he left it before going to work on MH370 last year.

Through it all, Maira says he has found peace though her faith even though hardly any more is known today about MH370’s fate than was known a month into the investigation. She says her mother is doing as well as she can be and her brother, 14, never speaks about the missing plane or their father. 

She’s tried to not let the experience change or define who she is and wants the world to view her not as a victim, but as the “bubbly, happy-go-lucky” person who loves “to make others laugh.”

‘I would love people to see me as the happy kid.’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *