An Amsterdam ground stewardess has written of the candid moments she shared with the passengers of MH17 as she checked them into her flight.
As the Netherlands prepare for a day of mourning, Renuka Manisha Virangna Birbal, who is reported to be one of the last to see MH17 passengers alive, described checking in an otherwise ordinary commercial flight filled with grandparents, young lovers and football fanatics.
“A beautiful little girl held by her mother, her father behind them pushing the stroller,” Ms Birbal wrote in a Facebook post.
“She is beautiful; a half Dutch, half Malaysian with beautiful big eyes. She kindly smiled at me.
“Grandma takes photos of her children and grandchildren checking in. This time I do not mind that I am in the picture.
“Suddenly I see a familiar face. It is our colleague from the MH ticket counter. He proudly shows me his son, wife and daughter. With a big smile he waved ‘See you soon’.”
The post, which was originally published in Dutch, has been shared more than 8000 times on Facebook. It was published by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
She describes a newly married couple on their way to a honeymoon.
The flight also included 15 crew who Ms Birbal considered colleagues, with whom she says she shared a final smile and salute.
“The last time I saw them, talked to them and wished them a pleasant flight, the passengers of flight MH017 on 17Jul14,” Ms Birbal wrote on Monday.
“One last smile, one last salute, a happy face.”
She concludes by wishing the passengers and crew would rest in peace.
Netherlands day of mourning
The king and queen of the Netherlands will lead mourners as the first victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster are repatriated from the Ukraine.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will be in Eindhoven with relatives of the 298 people – including 37 Australians – killed when the Boeing 777-200 was apparently shot down by Russia-backed separatists over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
The Dutch government had declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.
An unconfirmed number of bodies were released by the rebels on Tuesday and taken to the government-controlled city of Kharkiv by train.
Two military aircraft will fly some of them to Eindhoven this afternoon, where they will be met by the royals, prime minister Mark Rutte, relatives and officials from various countries.
The Netherlands government said a minute’s silence will be held before a motorcade takes them to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks, where the process of identifying them will begin.
Rutte warned on Tuesday that this may not be a quick process, saying: “This may happen rapidly, but I have to caution you that it could also take weeks or even months.”
The Dutch are leading the investigation into what happened to the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur flight, at the request of the Ukrainian government.
– with AAP