After more than a month Malaysia Airlines lost its second aircraft within this year – shotdown on July 17 – the remains of flight MH17’s 30 Malaysian victims have been identified. There were 44 Malaysians onboard the Boeing 777-200ER, including 15 crew and 2 infants, when it was shot down by Russian-made BUK–M1 (SA-11 Gadfly) surface-to-air missile system.
Today, the remains of 20 Malaysians victims return home on board a special flight MH6129 (Registration No: 9M-MPS). The Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 747 departed from Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport at 9.40pm Malaysian time (Thursday) and touches down at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 9:55am Malaysian time (Friday). Today is the day of mourning for the Malaysian victims of MH17.
Among those who were awaiting the remains at the Bunga Raya Complex here were the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Cabinet ministers and their deputies, opposition MPs, ambassadors, senior enforcement personnel and Government officials, and the next-of-kin of the victims.
The mood was sombre as the caskets and urns, all draped with the Jalur Gemilang, were lowered from the aircraft by Malaysian Armed Forces personnel. Apparently, the urns were that of three of the 20 remains – that of passenger Ng Lye Ti and crew members Lee Hui Pin and Angeline Premila Rajandran – had been cremated in the Netherlands and is now being brought home.
The remains of 13 victims would be brought to their final place of rest in hearses while those of 7 would be flown to their respective states on C130 aircraft or EC725 helicopters. Friday has been declared a national day of mourning in Malaysia, and the one minute of silence will be observed any time between 10.30am and 11.15am as a mark of respect for the victims.The first coffin of MH17 victim, Mastura Mustafa – a MAS cabin crew – is brought out of the plane by six pall-bearers, follows by second coffin with the remains of MH17 co-pilot and first officer Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi. Subsequently, MAS cabin crew Hamfazlin Sham Mohamed Arifin, Nur Shazana Mohamed Salleh, chief stewardess Dora Shahila Kassim were brought out of the plane.
The sixth coffin bearing the remains of MH17 passenger Foo Ming Lee was then brought out, follows by other passengers – Karamjit Singh Kernail Singh, Ng Qing Zheng, husband and wife Mabel Anthony Samy and Paul Rajasingam/Sivagnanam (their 9-year-old son Matthew has yet to be identified).
Next were the urns with the cremated remains of MH17 passenger Elisabeth Ng Lyeti, and two cabin crew – Lee Hui Pin and Angeline Premila Rajandaran. The fourteenth coffin was of passenger Ariza Ghazalee and that of her eldest son Muhammad Afif Tambi (Ariza’s husband and three other children have yet to be identified.The next 5 remaining coffins to be brought out and carried to the hearses – Noor Rahimmah Mohd Nor (MH17 passenger), Chong Yee Pheng (MAS cabin crew) and Azrina Yakob (MAS cabin crew), Mohd Ali Md Salim (MH17 passenger) and Hasni Hardi Parlan (MH17 passenger).
A minute’s silence was observed simultaneously nationwide at 10.55am as the last of the 20 caskets was lowered from the special Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH6129 and placed in the waiting white hearses. Just like in Holland about a month ago, the sight of a convoy of white hearses carrying the remains of MH17 victims was absolutely heart breaking. The hearses will continue their route to various destinations for their final and proper burial.
In the meantime, millions of Malaysians pay their respect with a moment of silence. The mood was sombre as family members awaiting the arrival of their deceased family members’ bodies at Sultan Azlan Shah airport in Ipoh, as well as motorists who stopped over at Penang Bridge observing a minute of silence for MH17. Welcome home MH17 – it’s indeed a very sad day.
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