By Michael Muskal and Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times
Around the world Friday, friends and loved ones gathered to mourn the passengers and crew who lost their lives on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, including a student from Indiana, a prominent AIDS researcher, teachers, tourists, and those just going home.
President Barack Obama on Friday identified the first, and so far only, known American citizen aboard as Quinn Lucas Schansman, who had Dutch and American citizenship.
A Facebook profile appearing to belong to Schansman indicates that he was living in Amsterdam as of April, and attending the International Business School at Hogeschool van Amsterdam. A photo posted by a woman who appears to be his girlfriend included numerous condolences from friends.
The Boeing 777 was carrying 298 people when it went down Thursday in eastern Ukraine, sending shock waves around the world from Malaysia to the Netherlands. The dead were from at least 10 countries with the majority, 189, Dutch.
Another passenger with American connections, Karlijn Keijzer, 25, of Amsterdam, was a doctoral student in chemistry at Indiana University and an avid rower who once competed on the women’s varsity rowing team, the school said. She had also earned her master’s degree at Indiana.
Keijzer was a member of Indiana’s varsity 8 crew during its 2011 season. “The Indiana rowing family is deeply saddened by the news of Karlijn’s sudden passing,” said rowing Coach Steve Peterson. “She came to us for one year as a graduate student and truly wanted to pursue rowing. That year was the first year we really started to make a mark … and she was a huge reason for it.”
At a televised news conference Friday, a Malaysia Airlines official gave the latest breakdown of those who died. In addition to the 189 Dutch, which includes Schansman, there were 29 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine from Britain, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, and one each from Canada and New Zealand. The nationalities of several passengers have yet to be verified and officials warned that other passengers may turn out to have dual citizenship.
The disaster over Ukraine was the second major tragedy this year involving a Malaysia Airlines flight. In March, Flight 370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and its 241 passengers and crew were all lost. No sign of the plane has been found.
For one Australian family, the disasters on opposite sides of the world will be forever linked.
Kaylene Mann’s brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were on board MH370 when it vanished in March. On Friday, Mann told the Associated Press that the family had just found out that her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed on MH17.
“It’s just brought everyone, everything back,” said Greg Burrows, Mann’s brother. “It’s just … ripped our guts again.”
As many as 100 passengers on Flight 17 were traveling to Melbourne, Australia, for the 20th International AIDS conference starting this weekend. The mood among the AIDS research community was grim Friday. Among those lost was prominent researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International AIDS Society, and his colleague, Jacqueline van Tongeren, according to the Academic Medical Center hospital in Amsterdam, where the pair worked.
“Joep was a man who knew no barriers,” the hospital said in a statement. “He was a great inspiration for everybody who wanted to do something about the AIDS tragedy in Africa and Asia.”
Organizers said the event, a leading forum for researchers to meet, form ties and discuss their work, would go on.
“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,” they said in a statement.
A World Health Organization spokesman traveling to the conference was also killed.
Television showed clips from the Amsterdam area of flowers being left outside a shop whose owner and boyfriend were among the missing. Mourners gathered outside the Malaysian embassy in Moscow to leave flowers and express their condolences.
Lousewies van der Laan, a Dutch politician and former member of the Dutch parliament, praised Dutch activist Pim de Kuijer, once her intern and believed to be among the dead. On Twitter, Van der Laan called de Kuijer “a brilliant, inspiring and caring activist fighting for equality and helping AIDS victims around the world.”
A Dutch senator, Willem Witteveen of the Labor Party, also died, the Dutch Senate announced.
Students at the Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic school in Sydney, Australia, gathered Friday for a special prayer meeting after it was confirmed that Sister Philomene Tiernan, a 77-year-old teacher, was killed.
“We’re absolutely devastated. For me, she’s been a great mentor and she’s also a personal friend,” school Principal Hilary Johnston-Croke told reporters, her voice breaking with emotion.
Another Australian school, Toorak College in Melbourne, was also bereaved, according to local media reports. Teacher Frankie Davison and her husband Liam were on the stricken flight, the school announced.
“Our hearts and sympathy goes out to their children Milly and Sam, and family,” the school said in a message online. “We are devastated by the news of this tragedy.”
Relatives were also mourning loved ones in Malaysia. Akmar Mohd Noor said her sister was flying home from Geneva to join her family for Hari Raya, the celebrations to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“She was coming back from Geneva to celebrate with us for the first time in 30 years,” Akmar told reporters.
AFP Photo/Dominique Faget
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