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Worker for Latrobe-based Xcoal on ill-fated flight

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 11:15 p.m.
Muktesh Mukherjee, 42, of Beijing, an employee of Latrobe-based Xcoal Energy and Resources, and his wife, Xiaomo Bai, 37, were aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370 when the jetliner vanished from radar off the coast of Vietnam.

An employee of Latrobe-based Xcoal Energy and Resources who lived in Beijing was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 when the jetliner vanished from radar off the coast of Vietnam, authorities said.

Muktesh Mukherjee, 42, and his wife, Xiaomo Bai, 37, were returning from vacation in Vietnam, according to news reports.

Mukherjee, 42, was vice president of China operations for Xcoal Energy, which has an office at 1 Energy Place in Latrobe, according to its website.

Also aboard the missing jet was Mei Ling Chng of South Park, a system process engineer for Flexsys America in Monongahela, Washington County.

Ernie Thrasher, CEO of Xcoal, could not be reached for comment. In news reports, he described Mukherjee as a “dear friend.”

Xcoal is a broker that exports coal mined in Pennsylvania and West Virginia to China, Japan and South Korea, according to the company's website.

Facebook photos posted as late as March 5 showed Mukherjee and his wife at the Amano'i Resort in Xa Vinh Hai, Vietnam. Both Canadian citizens, they have two sons and had lived in Chicago before moving to China.

Xiaomo Bai attended Beijing Foreign Studies University and met her husband while working in China as his interpreter, according to media reports. They were married in August 2002 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal, according to Canadian news reports.

Their Facebook pages chronicle their travels around the world, often with their children.

Mukherjee's LinkedIn profile indicates he has held the vice president's position with XCoal since 2012. Prior to that, he spent nine years in Montreal working at Iron Ore Co. of Canada, Mittal Canada and Mittal Steel Co., after finishing his master's in business administration at McGill University.

Mukherjee was the grandson of the late Mohan Kumaramangalam, who served as minister of steel and mines during the administration of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Times of India reported. He died in a plane crash in 1973. Mukherjee's father, Malay Mukherjee, is a retired executive with ArcelorMittal Group, which operates steel and coke plants in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. An uncle, Milon Mukherjee, is a senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, according to the newspaper.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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