The tight-knit community of Eynesbury in Melbourne’s outer west is reeling after the loss of a family of five killed on board flight MH17.
Australian residents Shaliza Zain Dewa, her husband Johannes van den Hende and their three-children Piers, 15, Marnix, 12 and Margaux, 8, were among the 298 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot out of the sky over Ukraine.
Locals have been placing flowers outside the family’s house as news of their deaths filters through town.
Family friend Neville de Morton said the loss of an entire family from the community would hit hard.
“I’m very sad, we’re a pretty tight-knit community. To lose a whole family in one episode is almost unbearable,” he said.
“They’ve got relatives overseas who’d be absolutely shattered, we’re a community on our own and it’s very sad.”
Another family friend, Deanne Jenkins, said the family was well-known in the area.
“It hasn’t just affected us here in Eynesbury but it’s affected the wider community,” she said.
Piers, 15, was an up-and-coming goalkeeper for Melton Phoenix Football Club and also helped referee other games.
Club secretary Michelle Williamson said his death had left the team devastated.
“I can’t believe it, it’s just shock,” she said.
“He was an up-and-coming really good goal keeper, really passionate soccer player.
“Great family – he was a really great kid.”
A memorial service for the family will be held at the Eynesbury Homestead on Sunday afternoon.