News National Melbourne author among victims

Melbourne author among victims

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Award-winning novelist Liam Davison and his wife, beloved high school teacher Frankie Davison, are one of four Victorian couples killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight disaster.

The number of Victorians onboard flight MH17 was revised up to 10 by the state government on Friday night.

Among those killed in the crash were small business owners Gerry and Mary Menke, Sunbury real estate agent Albert Rizk and his wife Maree, and Melbourne-based couple Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler.

Liam Davison, 56, was an award-winning novelist but also a brilliant teacher who was “universally liked”, according to fellow writer Ben Pobjie.

“He was a really great writer in his own right and it was a privilege to be in his classes,” Mr Pobjie, who was taught by Mr Davison, told Fairfax Media.

Mr Davison’s wife, teacher Francesca “Frankie” Davison, 54, had worked at Toorak College on the Mornington Peninsula for 28 years.

“We are devastated by the news of this tragedy,” college principal Helen Carmody said.

“Frankie was a dear friend – warm, generous and kind. She gave so much to Toorak College both personally and professionally.”

The Davisons left behind a son and daughter, Ms Carmody said.

Malaysian Elaine Teoh and Dutch national Emiel Mahler, both 27, lived in Melbourne and were thought to be travelling to a wedding.

Ms Teoh’s employer, IG Australia, issued a statement saying she and Mr Mahler – who used to work at the company – were “beloved members of our close IG community and were valued members of our team”.

Mr Mahler left IG Australia to join Vanguard Australia, which said staff were “extremely sad”.

Gerry and Mary Menke, who ran an abalone pearl company in Mallacoota, made a huge contribution to the local community, Jeanette Seignior from Business and Tourism East Gippsland said.

“They are a beautiful couple, a lovely family,” Ms Seignior told AAP.

The Rizks, who had two children, had lived in Sunbury for more than 20 years, where Mr Rizk was a director of the local Raine & Horne real estate branch.

Hume city councillor Jack Ogilvie said the couple were actively involved in the Sunbury Football Club.

“Albert and Maree both loved the club … Maree worked in the canteen on game day,” Mr Ogilvie said.

“Albert has been on our committee for three years. His son James is one of our A-grade footballers.”

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has pledged his government’s support for loved ones.

He said the dead also included a “substantial” number of delegates and experts travelling to Melbourne for the 20th International AIDS Conference, to begin this weekend.

Flags on government buildings across Victoria will fly at half-mast from Friday until the conference ends.

The Department of Human Services has arranged for counsellors to tend to friends and loved ones of the victims including those at Melbourne Airport, the Malaysia Airlines Melbourne office and the AIDS conference.