Flight MH17: Faces of the Victims Shot Down by Russian Separatists

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 8.28.17 AM (1)Editor’s Note: 298 people died in this tragic explosion. Among them, 80 children. How do you confuse a commercial airliner with a military aircraft? That is the real question here.

Eighty children were among the victims killed when a passenger jet was shot out of the sky at 32,000ft by a surface-to-air missile yesterday.

Two Indonesians aged just three and five who were flying with their parents, as well as three Australian children headed home with their grandfather, numbered among the 298 dead after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held Ukraine yesterday.

Also on board the doomed flight were around 100 Aids experts on their way to an international conference, a Catholic nun from Australia and a British university student.

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The nationalities of more victims were confirmed today – with the toll now including 189 Dutch, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and nine Britons. Four passengers are yet to be verified.

The Boeing 777 aircraft was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile over territory near Donetsk held by pro-Russian rebels who the Ukrainian government says are backed by the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the attack.

The plane was shot down in an ‘act of terrorism’, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, including three Australian children, aged between eight and 12, who were travelling with their grandfather.

The family had been on holiday and the children’s parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few extra days, but Mr Norris took his grandchildren on MH17 to get them back to Australia in time for school, Australian broadcasters reported.

The tragedy has sparked outrage across the globe, with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk leading calls on world powers to support his government in bringing to justice ‘those b****** who committed this international crime’ after a passenger plane was shot down over his country.

Security forces from Ukraine claim to have intercepted two phone conversations in which in which pro-Russian separatists seem to celebrate hitting the plane. In the wake of the aviation disaster tributes have poured in for the victims, who include families and renowned researchers.

Nick Norris, from Perth, Australia, was flying on the service with his grandchildren Mo, 12, Evie, 10, and Otis Maslin, eight, when it was shot down at around 16.00 BST yesterday.

Mr Norris’s son Brack, 24, paid tribute to his father, niece and nephews. ‘I’m a bit dizzy right now,’ he told MailOnline in Australia.

The family had been on holiday and the children’s parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few extra days, but Mr Norris took his grandchildren on MH17 to get them back to Australia in time for school, Australian broadcasters reported.

Mr Norris, the managing director of management consulting firm Collaborative Systemic Change Pty Ltd, is survived by his son Brack, who is the company’s marketing manager, and daughter Kirstin, a marine engineer with the Royal Australian Navy. He was a well-known member of the South Perth Yacht Club.

The identities of British victims also emerged today, including two Newcastle United fans on their way to see the club play in New Zealand, and a student from Leeds University.

Glenn Thomas, a 49-year-old UN worker from Blackpool, was on board the flight. Mr Thomas was a media relations co-ordinator for the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations agency, and had previously worked as a journalist for the BBC.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that 189 Dutch, 44 Malaysian (including 15 crew and two infants)12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, three Filipino, and one Canadian citizen were also on the plane.

Mr Thomas grew up in Blackpool and worked as a journalist in the Lancashire seaside resort in the early 1990s, where his twin sister Tracey Withers still lives. The Blackpool Gazette reported that he moved to Geneva, Switzerland, a decade ago to start working for the WHO. He was said to have posted a status update shortly before starting his journey, which was supposed to end in Melbourne.

He caught a place from Geneva to Amsterdam, and boarded the doomed service from the Dutch capital to Kuala Lumpur, where he would have boarded a connecting flight. Mr Thomas lived in Geneva with his partner who lived in Geneva with his partner Claudio-Manoel Villaca-Vanetta, but is said to have kept up his ties to Blackpool.

Today one of his nephews said the family was ‘totally torn up’ by his death. The relative, a son of Mr Thomas’s sister Tracey and her husband Mark, said his parents were on holiday in Spain when they heard the news. He said: ‘She is on her way home; she is totally torn up. Like any twins they are very close-one of them feels everything the other does.She must have known in her mind something terrible was going on.’

Tributes were paid to Mr Thomas today, whom colleagues described as ‘a wonderful personal and a great professional’. WHO spokesman Fadela Chaib said: ‘I can confirm he was on the flight travelling to Australia to attend the Aids conference in Australia.

‘For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve. We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional. Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock.’

A Leeds university student has also been named as one of the British nationals who died when flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. Richard Mayne, 20,  was originally from Leicester where he lived with his parents.

He also leaves behind his brothers Thomas, 24, and William, 19, and sister Scarlett, who lives in Hampshire. Mr Mayne was studying maths and finance at the university.

Speaking from the family home today, his father Simon, 53, said: ‘He was on his way to Perth. When we were looking at flights together, there was this one that stopped in Amsterdam and we thought it would be perfect.

‘I took him to the airport at 3am myself, to fly to Amsterdam. When I first saw it on the news, my heart dropped. I just thought, oh god, oh god – I couldn’t believe it. We were hoping and praying he had fallen asleep at Amsterdam and missed his flight.

‘You think you’ve got problems and them something like this happens and it all just takes over. I can’t even bring myself to look at a photograph of him. We are beyond devastated. It is such a beautiful sunny day but our lives have been torn apart.’

Today fears emerged that two Newcastle United fans were among the Britons killed. A fan site for the football club posted that two people were aboard MH17 on their way to New Zealand, where the team is playing in a pre-season tour.

One of the men is thought to be fan John Alder, who was in his 60s. The loyal supporter is known to other fans as The Undertaker because of his tradition of wearing a suit to every game.

He is thought only to have missed a single match since he started attending in 1973, and follows the team around the world for their away games.

It is believed John was travelling to the game with another 28-year-old fan, believed to be Liam Sweeney, from Newcastle.

Before the flight John had made his way from Amsterdam, then boarded the flight destined for Kuala Lumpur.

Tributes have started to pour in for the former BT worker, who was also known for his mullet-style haircut.

Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said today that his players were ‘deeply shocked and saddened’ at the deaths of two such ‘dedicated’ fans.

The club said both men were familiar faces at every United away game and attended reserve and academy matches as well as first-team games.

The airline has now said that all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will now be taking alternative routes, avoiding the usual route over Ukraine.

A real estate agent, from Victoria, Australia, his wife, a Perth management consultant, a Melbourne university student and a Sydney Catholic nun are among the Australian dead on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border.

A Catholic nun from Sydney was also on board the flight. Sister Philomena, a teacher at girls’ high school Kincoppal-Rose Bay, was the relative of school students at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in North Sydney.

It has been confirmed that Malaysian student Elaine Teoh, who had been studying at Melbourne University, was also on the flight, Channel Nine reported.

Recently retired pathologist Roger Guard and his wife Jill from Toowoomba in Queensland, have also been identified from the MH17 flight.

Tawoomba’s Mayor Paul Antonio said the entire Darling Down’s community would be shaken by the tragic news, reported the Brisbane Times.

Dr Guard was well regarded in the medical community, acting as the director within the Pathology Queensland laboratory in Toowoomba Hospital. He also helped perform autopsies on the victims of the Queensland flood and was well known for organising local marathon events in his local community for the Toowoomba Road Runner fitness group.

This article continues at Dailymail.co.uk


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