Update: Malaysian Airlines releases passenger manifest of those onboard MH17.
It also announced it will retire flight number MH17 for its Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur route. This will be replaced by MH 19 – AMS/KUL
Like many others, am following with great interest the updates on MH17. Luckily, an old friend from the 1990s, former journalist Michael Bociurkiw (or BBQ, as we called him in Manila) is right there at the scene now as the spokesperson of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). I just have to follow his Facebook updates to know the situation in the crash site itself.
Here are some snippets of Bociurkiw’s interview with CNN last Saturday:
“We were able to see the tailfin and we counted dozens of bodies. We are starting to see decomposition.”
“Armed guards limited the amount of area we could observe. It’s a very difficult, complicated and dangerous environment.”
The news further quoted him as saying: “It basically looks like one of the biggest, or the biggest, crime scenes in the world right now, guarded by a bunch of guys in uniform with heavy fire power, who are quite inhospitable.”
Bociurkiw (@mikeybbq on Twitter) said the crash site of MH17 is in same area in Donetsk “where four of our international civilian colleagues were kidnapped more than a month ago.” He posted this photo an armed man guarding the place-
As of the latest, close to 200 bodies have been recovered but they are unfortunately being held by Russian separatist rebels.
Malaysia Airlines said in their website that they still have to identify many more next-of-kin or family members of the fatalities and urged them to come forward by contacting the following numbers:
Malaysia Airlines’ Family Support Centre at +603 7884 1234 (in Malaysia).
Netherlands (Amsterdam office) +31 20 521 62 62
Australia (Sydney office) +61 2 9364 3526
Indonesia (Jakarta office) +62 2 1522 9705
New Zealand (Auckland office) +64 9 306 3930
United Kingdom (London office) +44 20 7341 2060
Germany (Frankfurt office) +49 69 1387 1980
Philippines (Manila office) + 63 2 889 1863
The MH17 crash happened just four months after the disappearance of another Malaysian Airlines flight, MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Among the MH17 fatalities were three Philippine passport holders, Irene Pabellon-Gunawan, her two children Sherryl Shania, 15 and Darryl Dwight, 20 together with the head of the family Budy Janto Gunawan who was a Malaysian Airlines employee himself. They were about to take a vacation and attend a family reunion in the Philippines. Budy’s sister Jessica posted this family photo in their loving memory:
It was a senseless tragedy indeed. I hope the families of the missing MH370 flight find closure soon too.