A Melbourne-based family of five are the latest to be named among the at least 36 victims of the Malaysia Airlines disaster who called Australia home, 28 of them citizens and eight permanent residents.
Hans van den Hende, his wife, Shaliza Dewa, and their children Piers, Marnix and Margaux were on their way home from a European holiday.
The family, who lived in the suburb of Eynesbury, were described on Saturday as being community-minded and involved in many sports.
Marnix enjoyed success with the Melton Swimming Club, and 13-year-old Piers played soccer for Melton Phoenix.
“It hasn’t just affected us here in Eynesbury but it’s affected the wider community,” family friend Deanne Jenkins told Network Ten.
A memorial will be held for the family on Sunday.
Ten Victorians – including four couples – and eight foreign nationals who were residents of the state have been confirmed as passengers of the downed plane.
Ms Dewa’s distraught mother, Datin Siti Dina, learnt of her family’s fate from a family friend.
“My friend and I watched the news on CNN as soon as I received the call,” she told reporters at Kuala Lumpur airport, where the ill-fated flight was supposed to have landed from Amsterdam.
“I called up my son-in-law’s family immediately,” she told Malaysian newspaper The Star.
News of the van den Hende family follows the equally tragic loss of Perth grandfather Nick Norris and his three young grandchildren, Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin.
And a central Queensland family who lost two members on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared in March, have confirmed a connection to victims in the latest tragedy.
Irene and George Burrows of Biloela lost their son Rodney and his wife, Mary, when MH370 vanished, and now it has emerged their Victorian step-granddaughter Maree Rizk and husband Albert were aboard MH17.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, crew and their families following the tragic incident,” the Burrows family said in a statement.
Families of the Australian victims face a wait of several weeks for the return of their loved ones.
Their remains still lie amid the wreckage of MH17 in a rebel-held area of eastern Ukraine, during an international war of words over who is to blame and who should investigate the killing of the 298 people on board.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, US President Barack Obama and other world leaders are demanding a team of independent investigators be given access to the crash site.
Mr Abbott says contingency plans are in place to repatriate the remains of the Australians.
“Although I must caution this is likely to be weeks, rather than days,” he said.
Flags were lowered on Saturday as the first memorial services for the dead Australians were held.
About 200 members of Kincoppal-Rose Bay School’s community in Sydney’s east gathered to pay tribute to Sister Philomene Tiernan, 77, who had been flying home after a sabbatical in France.
Parish priest Monsignor Tony Doherty said it was difficult to describe the death of Sister Philomene, who worked at the Catholic school for more than three decades.
“Phil was a beautiful spirit in the midst,” he said.
“It will be like losing one of the closest members of your own family.”
The brother of Queensland retiree and crash victim Howard Horder has told of how the 63-year-old had joked about flying with Malaysia Airlines to Europe.
“I spoke to him two days before he went on his holiday and he said he was flying with Malaysia Airlines,” Glenn Horder told AAP.
“I said, ‘Jeez, really?’ and he said, ‘Yes, I only bought a one-way ticket’, but he was joking.”
Mr Horder and his wife Susan, 63, of Albany Creek, were among seven Queenslanders aboard flight MH17.
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