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TODAY   |  March 20, 2014

Families are emotional about possible debris sighting

Families of the missing Flight 370 passengers share emotional reactions about the news of possible debris. Counselors are on standby to help them cope. NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.

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>> potential discovery, of course, is a hopeful sign that the families of the passengers could at least be closer to finally finding out what happened to their loved ones. kier simmons is following that from kuala lumpur this morning. good morning.

>> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning. i'm told some relatives were given the news here around 4:00 or 5:00 this morning. that is well over 12 hours ago. and here is the painful thing, savannah. some relatives i've heard from are saying they are crossing their fingers this is not the wreckage of flight 370. others are saying they hope it is flight 370 because they simply want to know what happened. imagine at this team being a relative wanting news but not wanting bad news. 8-year-old aisha's brother was on flight 370. she plays while the world waits for the news. a hug for her father bracing himself to be told his son's plane did crash into the ocean.

>> not sure. these are object 370.

>> his son is in his late 20s with a wife and child. his uncle says the family are prepared.

>> even the word?

>> yes.

>> reporter: and in preparation for news from the search and rescue teams, ambulances have been stationed outside the relatives' homes in case some cannot cope.

>> for now, we're on stand by.

>> reporter: you're on stand by?

>> yes.

>> reporter: stand by in case the worst possible news?

>> yeah.

>> reporter: counselors will help. for now, they say relatives are hanging on every new word, every new fact, half hoping, half dreading what they might learn. and i'm also told that some relatives are being asked whether or not they want to travel to australia to that perhaps a measure of how seriously officials are taking it. but these relatives, savannah, who have waited for so long for news, now they have to wait again to see whether this is the plane their relatives were on.

>> keir simmons in kuala lumpur ,