Double flight tragedy for Australian family
In an almost incomprehensible twist of fate, an Australian woman who lost her brother in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has learned her stepdaughter was on the plane shot down over Ukraine.
Kaylene Mann’s brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were on board Flight 370 when it vanished in March.
On Friday, Mann found out that her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed along with 297 others on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which US intelligence authorities believe was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
‘‘It’s just brought everyone, everything back,’’ said Greg Burrows, Mann’s brother. ‘‘It’s just ... ripped our guts again.’’
Burrows said his family was struggling to understand how they could be struck by such horrible luck on two separate occasions with the same airline.
‘‘She just lost a brother and now a stepdaughter, so...’’ he said of his sister, his voice trailing off.
Rizk and her husband Albert, of Melbourne, were returning home from a four-week holiday in Europe, said Phil Lithgow, president of the Sunbury Football Club, with which the family was heavily involved.
Albert, a real estate agent, was a member of the club’s committee, Maree was a volunteer in the canteen and their son, James, plays on the club’s team.
‘‘They were very lovely people,’’ Lithgow said.
‘‘You wouldn’t hear a bad word about them — very generous with their time in the community, very community-minded, and just really very entertaining people to be with.’’
The club members planned to wear black armbands and observe a minute of silence to honour the Rizks at their game on Saturday, Lithgow said.
Despite the twin tragedies, Burrows said he holds nothing against Malaysia Airlines.
‘‘Nobody could predict they were going to get shot down,’’ he said. ‘‘That was out of their hands.’’
As the Australian death toll climbed from the Malaysia Airlines disaster, a common theme emerged among the victims.
Decent, everyday Australians who contributed to society.
Take Sydney nun Sister Philomene Tiernan or former primary school deputy principal Michael Clancy.
Or Nick Norris, who was returning from a holiday with three of his grandchildren, aged eight to 12, all of whom died.
There was college teacher Francesca ''Frankie'' Davison, well-loved community figure Albert Rizk and Canberra mother-of-two Liliane Derden, who worked for the National Health and Medical Research Council.
At least 28 Australians perished in the tragedy, and it's feared that number could rise.
Keen sailor Mr Norris, from Western Australia, leaves behind his wife, Lindy, a Murdoch University professor, and four children.
These include daughter Kirstin, a marine engineer with the Royal Australian Navy, and son Brack, who is the marketing manager with his father's company.
Brack Norris said he heard the news from one of his sisters.
''She called me at 5.30am ... and said that the plane that dad was on had been shot down,'' he told ABC radio.
''Quite shocking and disbelieving that we're actually in this situation.''
A fellow member of the South of Perth Yacht Club told Fairfax radio that Norris was friendly and a very enthusiastic sailor.
''He was just a lovely bloke.'' He'll be missed.''
Sister Philomene, 77, was another who will be greatly missed, having mentored thousands of children in her 30-plus years as a teacher and director of boarding at Sydney Catholic school Kincoppal-Rose Bay.
''The impact of this is just unbelievable in the whole community,'' a year 12 boarding student told AAP.
''It comes as a shock to us all.''
The nun had been enjoying a sabbatical in France.
''I feel like since we are all away from our parents she seemed like a grandma that everyone just loved,'' a year 10 boarder said.
Davison and her husband, Liam, were among the nine Victorians believed to have died in the crash.They had two children.
Derden's colleague expressed deep sadness at the loss of a valued colleague and friend.
A remote community teacher is among one of three suspected Northern Territory victims, along with a husband and wife from Palmerston.
Meanwhile, the Perth-based parents of a technology company founder are distraught because their daughter was expected to be on MH17 and cannot be reached.
Mosman Park-based doctor Jerzy Dyczynski and his wife, Angela, arrived in Perth on an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur late on Friday afternoon, saying they did not know the whereabouts of their daughter Fatima Dyczynski.
Amsterdam-based Ms Dyczynski is the chief executive and founder of Xoterra Space, a high-tech start-up company, and is trained in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering.
- AAP, AP