MH17 Passengers Were AIDS Researchers, Football Fans And A Catholic Nun
A Roman Catholic nun who taught high school. A couple returning from a month-long European vacation. A renowned AIDs researcher on his way to an international conference. These were among the 298 passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 who were killed Thursday after their plane was struck by a ground-to-air missile and crashed in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines released the flight's passenger manifesto on Saturday on its website, revealing the names and nationalities of the 298 people on board, who hailed from 11 different countries.
According to Malaysian officials, the majority of the MH17 passengers were Dutch nationals — 193 people in all. There were also 43 Malaysians (including 15 of the plane's crew and two infants), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians (including one infant), 10 Britons (including one with a dual U.K.-South Africa citizenship), four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one New Zealander and one Canadian on the doomed flight. The only confirmed U.S. victim was a dual citizen of the United States and the Netherlands.
"Malaysia Airlines requests the cooperation of members of the media to respect the privacy of the grieving families," the airline said in a statement.
The passengers of MH17 were more than numbers. They had families and friends, missions and occupations. They were authors, politicians and real estate agents. They were completing vacation trips, visiting family members, celebrating Ramadan and embarking on an expedition to further research in their field.
A Dutch senator and legal scholar, Willem Witteveen was a prominent figure in the Dutch legal world. A member of the Labor Party, Witteveen also served as the dean of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts at Tilburg University. The senator was aboard the flight with his wife and daughter.
Liam And Frankie Davison
Australian author Liam Davidson was traveling with his wife, Frankie, who taught humanities at Toorak College in Mount Eliza, Australia. The author of seven books, including two short story collections, Liam Davison has won many literary awards throughout his career, including the National Book Council's Banjo Award for Fiction in 1993.
Sister Philomene Tiernan
Sister Philomene Tiernan was a beloved Roman Catholic nun in her community. She taught at the Kincoppal-Rose Bay of the Sacred Heart in a suburb of Sydney, Australia, for more than 30 years. Sister Philomene was also head of the boarding school there. When she boarded the ill-fated flight on Thursday, she was returning home from a spiritual retreat in Joigny, France.
Hundreds of Catholics, including former and current students, attended a memorial service for Sister Philomene held at the school on Friday to mourn her passing and celebrate her life. "She was a woman of astonishing grace, great charm, and above all, a gentleness," Monsignor Tony Doherty told the congregation. "I must say I found whenever being with Phil that I came away feeling a more expanded person."
Joep Lange and Jacqueline van Tongeren
Joep Lange, a Dutch citizen, was on his way to the International AIDS Conference when he boarded MH 17 on Thursday. The scientist and researcher previously served as president of the International AIDS Society, as well as the chief of clinical research and drug development of the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in the 1990s. He was well-regarded in the health community for his contributions to research on the disease.
"Joep is one of our giants in terms of AIDS research and AIDS access to treatment and care in poor places around the world," said Richard Marlink, executive director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. "He worked in Thailand on vaccines, in Africa on access to care and medical education. On top of all that was just a gem of a person."
Lange was traveling with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, who was a health and science expert in her own right. van Tongeren helped Lange with his global AIDS initiatives, and served as head of communications at the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development.
Officials from the University of Amsterdam, where both Lange and van Tongeren worked, said on Friday:
Thanks to her [van Tongeren] previous experience as an HIV-AIDS nurse, she was extremely familiar with the issues concerned. Over time, the bonds between Joep and Jacqueline developed far beyond those of a relationship between colleagues.
We are devastated by the news and by the realisation that we will have to move on without these two very special people who made such an immense contribution to global health care.
Tessa van der Sande
Tessa van der Sande was embarking on an Indonesian vacation with her parents and brothers at the time of Thursday's deadly crash. The 27-year-old worked for Amnesty International's special program on Africa. Amnesty International Netherlands released this statement on its Facebook page on Friday:
Our dear colleague Tessa van der Sande, employee of Amnesty's Special Programme on Africa, was one of the occupants of the Malaysian Airlines plane that crashed yesterday afternoon in Ukraine. She was with her parents and brother on the way to Indonesia to enjoy their holiday. Tessa was 27 years. We sympathize with her boyfriend, family and friends.
Liam Sweeney And John Alder
Football fans Liam Sweeney and John Alder, both U.K. citizens, were on their way to New Zealand to watch their team, Newcastle United, play in their pre-season tour. The two Britons were huge supporters of the Newcastle United Football Club, according to a statement released by the club on Friday. Fans also said Sweeney and Alder were recognizable fixtures at football games, attending nearly every home and away game of Newcastle United.
"Players and staff will wear black armbands during both games in New Zealand as a mark of respect," said an official from the Newcastle United Football Club.
Images: Getty Images (3), Wikimedia Commons, Amnesty International Netherlands/Facebook