The passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came from all walks of life, from a leading AIDS researcher and a Dutch senator to families and tourists from around the world.
Of the 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – a death toll increased from 295 after the airline reported three infants on board –108 were delegates headed to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Among them, Joep Lange, a well-known AIDS activist and former president of the International AIDS Society, had been headed to the conference to chair a panel Sunday afternoon. Lange was the author of more than 350 papers and spearheaded the fight for the availability of affordable AIDS treatment in Asia and Africa.
The IAS released a statement saying the conference, scheduled to run from July 20 to 25, will continue.
The International AIDS Society, convenors of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), is continuing to work with the authorities to clarify how the tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 impacts our conference delegates, our conference partners, and our community as a whole.
In recognition of our colleagues' dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the conference will go ahead as planned and will include opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost.
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé also tweeted a statement:
Another prominent Dutchman, Sen. Willem Witteveen, was among those onboard, the Dutch Senate confirmed. Witteveen was a member of the Labor Party, and had begun his second term in January 2013. He served his first from 1999 to 2007.
In fact, more than half of the passengers on board hailed from the Netherlands, the airline reported Friday. To put it in perspective, MH17 claimed a bigger share of the small country's population than 9/11 did in the United States, according to Vox. Kiev residents have created a tribute with flowers and candles outside the city's Dutch embassy and a similar tribute has started in Moscow.
But like any international flight – and one of dozens that travel the popular route airway L980 – many passengers came from various countries and unique backgrounds.
Indonesian-born 56-year-old passenger Ninik Yuriani, for example, was on her way to visit her 86-year-old mother. Nick Norris, a yachting enthusiast, was returning home from a European vacation with his three grandchildren just before the new school semester began in Western Australia. Akmar Mohamad Noor, the sister of a Malaysian passenger, had been waiting at the Kuala Lumpur airport to welcome her sister home after five years apart.
And in the Melbourne suburb of Sunbury, Australian Kaylene Mann lost another relative to a Malaysia Airlines disaster. Mann's brother and sister-in-law were on board Flight 370, which vanished in March. Her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed on Flight 17.
"It's just brought everyone, everything back," Mann's brother Greg Burrows told the Associated Press. "It's just ... ripped our guts again."
- Netherlands - 189 nationals
- Malaysia - 44, including 15 crew and 2 infants
- Australia - 27
- Indonesia - 12, including 1 infant
- United Kingdom - 9
- Germany - 4
- Belgium - 4
- Philippines - 3
- Canada - 1
- New Zealand - 1
Four passengers' nationalities have not yet been verified. The airline said in a press conference Friday morning it will provide $5,000 compensation to immediate next of kin.