WHEN Pam Cole first heard about the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, she never considered that someone she knew might have been on board.
Certainly not a life-long friend like Cathy Lawton.
It was Mrs Cole's daughter Andrea who broke the devastating news to her on the phone: "Mum, did you hear about that plane crash in Asia? Cathy and Bob were on that plane".
Mrs Cole, who lives in Cairns, had been best friends with Cathy - a Springfield Lakes resident - when they were young girls.
"Her family moved in across the road from me when I was about nine," she said.
"We both went to Balaclava State School (in Cairns).
"We did everything together; we'd play hockey up and down the driveway, took part in the school operetta and were in the local swimming club."
When Cathy returned to Ipswich with her family a few years later, the two friends remained in regular contact through letters, email and social media.
"We'd write back and forth to share photos and keep each other updated with what was going on in our lives," she said.
Mrs Cole, 53, said Cathy and her husband were lovely, energetic people who loved their family and enjoyed travelling.
She said she still couldn't believe that such a terrible tragedy happened to such nice people.
"What's worse is that they were aboard with friends," she said. "It makes you wonder who up above let such a thing happen?"
The aircraft on which Bob and Cathy were passengers vanished over water somewhere between Malaysia and Vietnam early on Saturday about an hour after take off.
Authorities in Kuala Lumpur have ordered the search for the plane be intensified after they discounted that objects reportedly seen floating in the sea on Sunday were from the aircraft.
Mrs Cole said she hoped the aircraft was soon recovered so family and friends affected could have some kind of closure.
Shock waves were also felt among the staff at Sharp Plywood at Wacol, where Mr Lawton had been working for more than 30 years. The business's managing director, Rodney Sharp, who knew Mr Lawton since he was a young lad, said it was a sombre atmosphere among workers yesterday.