Friday 26 December 2014

MH17: 'Devastated' family of Irish victim Edel Mahady being consoled by friends

Irish victim of tragic plane crash was married and had two young children

Niall O'Connor, Sam Griffin, Andrew Buncombe and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

Published 18/07/2014 | 02:30

Amnesty International have named their Dutch colleague Tessa van der Sande as one of the passengers killed in the downed Malaysian airliner MH17
The Smallenburg family
Emergency crews inspect the debris at the crash site of the Malaysian airliner near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine
Buk M2 missile system, believed to be similar to the one that shot down the plane.
Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol - believed to be on board MH17
A still taken from amateur video hows a fireball shortly after the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down over Ukraine. Photo: AP
People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine. Photo: AP
Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
An Emergencies Ministry member works at putting out a fire at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
A woman, who said her name was Noraini and that she believed a relative of hers was on Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17, cries as she waits for more information about the crashed plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Reuters
US President Barack Obama looks down as he speaks about the Malaysian airliner flight MH-17 that was brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 295 people aboard. Reuters
An Emergencies Ministry member walks at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 is seen at the G3 gate of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before it took off, heading to Kuala Lumpur, July 17, 2014. Reuters
Smoke rises above the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
Emergencies Ministry members walk at the site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region. Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Reuters

THE IRISH woman who lost her life in the Malaysian air crash was mother of two Edel Mahady, who emigrated to Australia some two decades ago.

She was originally from the Palmerstown area but emigrated to Perth. She was married and had two young children.

Mrs Mahady, who was in her fifties, had been visiting her elderly mother for two weeks.

The Dublin woman was a regular visitor to Ireland and was making her way back home when she lost her life.

She is a first cousin of the wife of TD Willie Penrose.

A source told independent.ie that the family of the woman are "devastated".

"It's extremely traumatic for them, they are trying to come to terms with it."

Mrs Mahady’s husband and two children had not travelled to Ireland and are being comforted by friends at their home in Perth in Australia.

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The late Edel Mahady

It is understood Mrs Mahady had been visiting Ireland to see her mother and extended family who live around Dublin.

A family source said: "The family are grieving and greatly shocked and traumatised."

He said that members were "numb with shock and disbelief and grief."

"They can't believe it. There is a great bond between them in that family," the source added.

The woman's mother and three sisters are being consoled by family members and friends. Mrs Mahady’s maiden name was Byrne.

Mrs Mahady had worked as a school administrator in the Good Sheppard Catholic Primary School in Kelmscott outside Perth in western Australia.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has called for an international independent inquiry into the atrocity.

"Sadly, we have learned that one Irish-born citizen was on board the flight to Kuala Lumpur," he said.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Ireland, I would like to convey deepest sympathies to her family, both in Ireland and in Australia, who have suffered this sudden and devastating loss."

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Prayer offerings in Malaysia for the flight victims

Frances Fitzgerald TD said: "My thoughts are with the #MH17 families. I am saddened to hear of an Irish woman on board."

Mr Flanagan said he spoke with the woman's family earlier to pass on his condolences.

"I assured them that my department is available to provide any assistance they may require over the coming days and months."

The minister added: "Ireland fully supports calls for a full, independent international investigation to establish the cause of this grave tragedy and to ensure that those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.

"I encourage all the authorities involved - and the parties to the conflict in Ukraine - to work together, to ensure that the hundreds of families who have been bereaved can get the answers they need."

Meanwhile, an Australian nun with “deep roots in Ireland” has been named among the dead in the MH17 disaster.

Sister Philomene Tiernan was on the flight as she travelled home from a retreat in Paris.

And Amnesty International have named their Dutch colleague Tessa van der Sande as one of the passengers killed in the downed Malaysian airliner MH17.

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The late Tessa van der Sande, an Amnesty International worker

An entire family of four, children heading on their holidays, pioneering AIDS doctors, Newcastle United soccer fans, college students and a catholic nun are among those killed in the flight MH17 disaster.Pictures of the victims of the disaster have begun to circulate as loved ones begin to identify the dead with investigations into the incident begin.

An entire Dutch family of four were killed in the crash.

The Smallenburg family - Charles, his wife Therese, their daughter and son Carlijn and Werther – were going on a holiday of a lifetime to east Asia.

Father Charles was said to be an enthusiastic volunteer in his local area – and son Werther was a talented footballer.

A statement on his soccer club’s website said: “We wish all the relatives very much strength to cope with this terrible loss.

“We remember the family Smallenburg, each in their own way.”

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The Smallenburg family

Glenn Thomas, 49, a media officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, was among 298 people killed when the Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was apparently shot down over the war-torn country yesterday.

10 Britons are known to have died in the crash, while up to 100 of those killed were reportedly delegates on their way to an international conference on Aids in Melbourne, Australia.

Mr Thomas's twin sister said she had not slept since receiving the news of her brother's death and she was "crying in limbo".

Writing on Facebook, Tracey Withers wrote: "Not slept all nite..crying in limbo here ..wat happens nxt."

She later posted: "Twins forever my dear younger bro seeing I was born before you 2 mins xx love you x."

The WHO said Mr Thomas had been with the organisation for more than a decade, initially working in the communications team supporting the TB department and later organising press conferences.

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Glenn Thomas from Blackpool

Paying tribute to Mr Thomas, WHO spokeswoman 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."

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl added: "Glenn will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health.

"He will be greatly missed by those who had the opportunity to know him and work with him. He leaves behind his partner Claudio and his twin sister, Tracey.

"Our deepest condolences go to his family, friends and colleagues at this time."

Tributes have been paid to Richard Mayne, 20, who is believed to have been on board the tragic flight.

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Friends have paid tribute to Richard Mayne

Mr Mayne, from Leicester, was studying maths and finance at Leeds University and had recently returned from a charity fund-raising trip to Mount Everest in March.

His former school in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, described him as an "extremely pleasant and thoughtful young man" who had a "great thirst for life".

John Wood, headmaster at The Dixie Grammar School, said: "All of us in The Dixie Grammar School community are devastated to hear the tragic news of Richard Mayne's death on the Malaysian Airlines flight.

"Richard was a great all rounder, good academically and also a keen sportsman.

"It is indicative of his high standing at school that Richard was our deputy head boy, having been appointed following a rigorous selection process which included a vote by all students and staff.

"But more importantly than this, Richard was an extremely pleasant and thoughtful young man who gave his time generously for everyone."

Ben Pocock, a second year international business degree student at Loughborough University, had been heading to Australia when the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed.

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Crash victim Ben Pocock

The university paid tribute to Mr Pocock, from Bristol, saying he was destined to achieve a first class honours degree.

"We are incredibly saddened to hear that one of our students, Ben Pocock, was believed to be a passenger on flight MH17," a spokeswoman said.

"Ben had just completed the second year of his international business BSc degree and was flying out to begin a professional placement and to study abroad at the University of Western Australia as part of his third year.

"Ben was an excellent student and on course to gain a first class degree. He was also a fine athlete, who played on the university athletic union's Ultimate Frisbee team and won their Player of the Year honour."

The spokeswoman added: "We are in contact with Ben's family and are offering them all the support we can. We are also providing support for the university's staff and students.

"Our thoughts and sincere condolences are with Ben's family and friends, and with all those who have lost family and friends in the crash."

On Monday, Mr Pocock wrote on Twitter that he had passed his end-of-year exams and was heading for Australia.

He tweeted on Monday: "Didn't fail my exams. Still going to Australia."

On Wednesday, he wrote: "Should be in bed #Recovering but I haven't packed yet and I leave in 18 hours."

His father, Jeremy, tweeted a friend of his son this morning saying: "Sorry Robbie, Ben was on the Malaysian flight."

The friend, Robbie Fisher, replied: "I've heard Jeremy. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a wonderful man."

In a statement released through the Press Association, the family of Mr Pocock spoke of their "devastation" at their loss.

"The family is devastated to confirm the loss of their son, Ben Pocock, in yesterday's Malaysia Airlines disaster," they said.

"Ben was excited to be travelling to Perth, Australia, to commence six months of study at the University of Western Australia as part of his international business management degree at Loughborough University.

"He was a gifted academic, talented athlete but more importantly a warm, caring, fun-loving son and brother who had an extremely bright future ahead of him.

"Ben is going to be terribly missed not only by his family but by the wider Keynsham community where he made so many long-lasting friends.

"I hope you can understand our wish for privacy at this difficult time and consequently this will be the only media statement made by the family."

Mo (12), Evie (10) and Otis Maslin (8) were on their way back to Perth with their grandfather, local businessman Nick Norris, after a family holiday in Amsterdam.

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Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin are among the dead

Elaine Teoh, 27, was from Penang, in Malaysia, but lived in Melbourne, where she was a student, according to her Facebook page. Dutch national Emiel Mahler, Elaine’s boyfriend, was also a victim who lived in Melbourne.

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A Catholic nun from Sydney was also on board the flight. Sister Philomene Tiernan, was a “much loved” teacher at the Catholic school Kincoppal-Rose Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, and was returning from a retreat in France.

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Sister Philomene Tiernan

Meanwhile in a chilling message, the leader of a pro-Russian separatist group fighting the Ukrainian government forces for control of eastern Ukraine appears to claim responsibility for downing the civilian airliner.

"We warned them not to fly in 'our skies'. Here is video confirmation of the latest 'fallen bird'. The bird landed outside the residential zone, no peaceful civilians were injured", he says.

The rebel, known as Igor Strelkov, used his page on a social networking site to boast that his men had just shot down an aircraft.

It's thought that pro-Russian separatists, backed by Moscow, downed the airliner after mistaking it for a Ukrainian military plane.

Separatist rebels say they have found "most" of the recording devices from the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

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Cor Pan and Neeltje Tol - believed to be on board MH17

A spokesman for  Girkin said this morning that eight out of the plane's 12 recording devices have been located.

He said Girkin was still considering whether to give international crash investigators access to the sprawling crash site.

Any investigators would need specific permission from the rebel leadership before they could safely film or take photos at the scene.

Ukraine, whose investigators have no access to the area, has called for an international probe to determine who attacked the plane and insisted it was not its military. US intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile downed the plane, but could not say who fired it.

The crash site was sprawling, spread out over fields between two villages in eastern Ukraine. Large chunks of the Boeing 777 that bore the airline's red, white and blue markings lay strewn over one field. The cockpit and one turbine lay half a mile apart, and residents said the tail landed another six miles away, indicating the aircraft most likely broke up before hitting the ground.

Kenneth Quinn of the Flight Safety Foundation said an international coalition of countries should lead the investigation. The Unites States has offered to help.

Malaysia's prime minister said there was no distress call before the plane went down and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has been scheduled for tonight to address what's now a full-blown diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West.

A Malaysia Airlines flight with 298 people on board was shot down over eastern Ukraine yesterday, most likely by a sophisticated missile system.

As the crisis in the region threatened to take on a dangerous global dimension, an investigation was launched into how the Boeing 777, which had been flying at 33,000ft, was blown out of the sky.

Images from the scene close to the village of Grabovo in the Donetsk region – contested territory between Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow rebels about 25 miles from the Russian border – showed piles of smoking debris and scores of bodies.

They were strewn over a large area, reportedly stretching up to 10 miles from the site of the impact. Some were still strapped into their seats.

In the second disaster for the Malaysian carrier this year, the airline confirmed that it had lost contact with flight MH17 while it was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Reports said Dutch and Malaysian passports had been found amid the wreckage. There were 154 Dutch passengers on board, as well as a reported 23 Americans and nine Britons.

There were no indications that there were any Irish passengers.

Lufthansa became the first of several carriers, including Air France, British Airways and Turkish Airlines, to announce they were diverting all flights from the region.

It emerged that the American Federal Aviation Administration had warned US flights in April to avoid eastern Ukraine.

It was not immediately clear how the downing of the plane will affect the internal conflict in Ukraine or the broader strategic stand-off involving Russia and the West. There will be global outrage, and pressure will grow on Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, to rein in rebel forces.

However, Mr Putin blamed Ukraine for the crash. "This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy," he said in a statement.

One witness, who gave his name only as Vladimir, said: "I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane and then a bang and shots. Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There was thick black smoke."

Questions were also asked as to why, given that several Ukrainian aircraft had been attacked in the area in recent days, passenger airliners were still passing over the rebel-held area of Ukraine.

Passengers' relatives began to arrive at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport last night, desperate for news. A spokeswoman for the airport said they could not release any further details, with a press conference planned for late last night.

Unaware

Tour operators have told local media that there were many Dutch passengers on board, and an emergency number is also going to be set up. There was little sign of the tragedy at the busy airport, with many people seemingly unaware of the disaster, news of which did not appear on any of the large television screens in the departures hall. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte rushed back from a summit in Brussels. "I am deeply shocked by the dramatic reports of the crash," he said.

Phil Giles, an air safety investigator who worked on the Lockerbie bombing, said that TV footage of the crash site looked similar to the scene in Scotland in 1988.

He said it should be possible to work out if the plane was hit by a missile or if a bomb on board had gone off.

"If you find the area where the initial explosion happened, you should be able to tell – not particularly easily – whether it came from inside or outside," he said.

"And if they'd fired off a missile, there must be bits of the missile around somewhere."

One pro-Russian separatist group appeared to claim responsibility for shooting down the jet yesterday afternoon, but the blog posting was quickly removed.

The issue was discussed in a telephone call between Mr Putin and Barack Obama yesterday.

Mr Obama reportedly told Mr Putin the West was prepared to enforce further sanctions if Moscow did not alter course in Ukraine. Earlier in the week, US officials in Washington had cited the attacks on Ukrainian aircraft as further evidence of Russian involvement in the conflict.

Captured

A statement issued by the office of the Russian President said Mr Putin had expressed his condolences to the Malaysian premier.

According to reports, the Facebook page of a Ukrainian interior ministry official, Anton Gerashchenko, claimed the plane had been brought down by rebels using a Buk anti-aircraft system.

Last month it was reported that rebels said they had captured such a system, capable of bringing down aircraft at an altitude of up to 25km.

Independent News Service

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