193 Dutch citizens
These are the numbers resounding in our heads today as they have in our hearts the past week. The past few days, more and more stories have come out in the media regarding these unfortunate people. A young couple, going on holiday. A son, going away for a few months and telling his mother before leaving: “don’t cry, it’s not like I’m dead, I’m just going to Malaysia”. Two befriended families taking their holiday together. Renounced scientists on their way to an AIDS conference… So many different people with only one thing in common: they were unlucky enough to be on flight MH17, that was shot down while flying over Ukraine on Thursday July 17th.
It is a horror beyond imagination. The plane was not only shot down, but looted as well, and initially, the black boxes were withheld from Malaysia Airlines and its investigators. Pictures of passports were circulating the web. And many, many tears were shed.
Major disasters happen every now and again, but I’ve never felt it this close. Yes, I remember coming home from school and seeing my mother in tears in front of the tv on 9/11. I remember the tsunami that wreaked part of Asia and cost so many people their lives. But these were events that happened half a world away. This is incredibly close. My old physiotherapist was on that plane. People I might have encountered on the street were on that plane. And no less than 80 children under 18 were on that plane. My heart goes out to all the relatives left behind.
298 people, 193 Dutch citizens were on that plane. We are grieving as a nation today, as the first bodies are returned from the crash site.