Ground staff recounts last moments with passengers and crew of MH17

Ground staff recounts last moments with passengers and crew of MH17

KUALA LUMPUR - A ground staff at the Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport bade farewell to MH17 crew and passengers as they made their way to the aircraft, not knowing she would be the last to see them alive.

Gate agent Renuka Manisha Virangna Birbal has shared her story on Facebook, detailing the final moment before they boarded the flight on July 17.

Birbal's post, originally written in Dutch, was translated and shared nearly 9,000 times, including at the "A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge", a global page for flight attendants to network and share experiences.

Although she did not name the people she bade farewell to, she wrote that there was a loving family of six with 10 pieces of baggage, one of whom had said to her: "After a long time, we're returning home."

The family could be that of Shell employee Tambi Jiee, 49, his wife Ariza Ghazalee, 47, and their four children.

The family, who had been staying in Kazakhstan for three years, was returning home for good.

Birbal was also believed to have met Malaysian actress Shuba Jaya, her Dutch husband Paul Goes and their daughter Kaela, who would have turned two soon.

"A beautiful little girl held by her mother, her father behind them pushing the stroller. She is beautiful - half Dutch, half Malaysian - with beautiful big eyes. She kindly smiled at me," she wrote.

She also greeted a family, who was dropped off by their grandparents, and it was the children's first holiday far away.

The others, recalled Birbal, included a man who was going to start a new life in Malaysia, a newly-wed couple on the way to their honeymoon and a man who was going to his mother's funeral.

"Suddenly, I saw a familiar face. It is our colleague from the MH ticketing counter. He proudly introduced to me his son, wife and daughter. With a big smile he waved 'See you soon'.

"Passengers travelling for business, holidays, on the way home, on the way to a new beginning - the last time I saw them, talked to them and wished them a pleasant flight.

"The passengers of flight MH017. Rest in peace, dear passengers and crew," said Birbal.

Tributes for those on board, their families and friends as well as MAS continued to pour in from all corners of the globe on the page.

Holding placards bearing messages like "Support MH17", "Stay strong" and "Our prayer is with you", aviation crew from dozens of countries, such as Jordan, Myanmar, Germany and South Africa, have conveyed their condolences and sympathies.

"All aviation professionals stand UNITED BY WINGS," wrote the Boston British Airways station.

An aviation staff from Brazil also drew a painting with the message "All airlines around the world are in mourning" showing a weeping Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont comforting several aircraft.

More about

MH17 passengers
Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.