were 298 people, including 154 Dutch nationals, on board the Malaysia
Airlines flight that crashed in strife-torn eastern Ukraine on Thursday,
an official from the carrier said.
“There were 283 passengers and
15 crew members on board the plane,” Malaysian Airlines vice president
Huib Gorter told reporters at a press conference at Amsterdam’s Schiphol
airport from where the doomed flight had taken off.
He gave a preliminary breakdown of the passenger’s nationalities, saying: “154 were Dutch, 27 were Australian.”
addition, 23 others were from Malaysia, 11 were Indonesian, six were
British, four were German, another four were from Belgium, three were
from the Philippines and one was Canadian.
Around 50 passengers remained unidentified, Gorter said.
traffic control lost contact with the Boeing 777-400 around 14:15
(12:15 GMT) near the Russian-Ukrainian border, the Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH17 took off from Schiphol shortly after
noon and was supposed to land in Kuala Lumpur at around 06:10 am local
time, Gorter said.
Malaysia Airlines will send a team to Ukraine on Friday to help with the investigation.
Another airplane will also be made available to grieving relatives wanting to visit the crash site, Gorter said.
about the cause of the plane crash, Gorter said: “At this stage we are
still looking at it from the viewpoint of being an accident.”
shocked and crying relatives were shielded from the press as they
arrived at Schiphol to be taken to a special gathering area.
They were later escorted from the airport and taken by bus to an undetermined destination, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
The crash is the Netherlands’ second-largest air disaster to date.
country’s largest disaster happened in March 1977 when 238 Dutch
citizens died in Tenerife when two Boeing 747s crashed with the loss of