MH17: He dies after swopping duties
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, going from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in Ukraine on Thursday night (Singapore time), killing all 298 on board. The passengers and crew came from at least 10 different nationalities. Here are some faces of the tragedy...
It had always been his dream to fly.
Now, he will forever be in the heavens, said a friend he considered a "sister".
Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight attendant Sanjid Singh Sandhu Jijar Singh, 40, died doing what he loved most.
An only son, he was one of the 298 people killed when flight MH17 crashed near the Russian border with Ukraine on Thursday.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, his close friend, who wanted to be known only as Ms Diana, 38, said: "He was like a brother to me and he treated me like a sister. I can't believe he's gone. I feel like I've lost a family member."
Sighing, she added that Mr Singh would still be alive had he not swopped duties and flown on the doomed flight.
About four months ago, his wife, Madam Tan Bee Geok, who is also an MAS flight attendant, was rostered to work on the still-missing flight MH370.
The 43-year-old is alive today because she had switched duties with another attendant.
According to news portal Free Malaysia Today, Mr Singh's father said Madam Tan may have to go to Ukraine to make funeral arrangements.
Said Ms Diana, a Malaysian who works in a hotel in Singapore: "It's such a cruel twist of fate. They just heaved a sigh of relief not too long ago after she narrowly escaped from boarding MH370 and now this had to happen."
She only found out about his death yesterday morning when one of her friends in Malaysia sent her a text message about it.
'HEAVEN GAINED AN ANGEL'
She called her friend, and burst into tears when it finally dawned on her that her "brother" is gone.
"My one regret is that I didn't contact him often when he was still alive. I wish I did. I cried at first but deep inside my heart, I know that he would want me to cheer up and not mourn for him.
"It's sad that he is no longer on earth. But I feel that heaven has gained an angel," said Ms Diana.
She first met Mr Singh in 1994.
They were colleagues in a five-star hotel in their hometown, Penang, and became close in 1995 when she became a receptionist on the club floor and he was assigned to be her trainer.
"I was quite scared of him because he seemed so stern at first. But later, I found that he was very kind, helpful and jovial.
"With a few other colleagues, we later became part of a group. We weren't just friends, we were like family."
The group of about five men and women spent a lot of time together, from going to supper after work to clubbing on nights off.
Mr Singh had told Ms Diana, who is single, that he had always wanted to be a flight attendant.
He had earlier applied to MAS a few times but was rejected.
She said: "He was finally accepted in 1997 and I remember that he was overjoyed when he told all of us about it.
"It was a bittersweet moment for me as I knew I would miss him at work."
She last met him in Penang in 2000, shortly before she left for Singapore to work.
"Before I left, he hugged me and said 'Get married soon'. I just laughed," said Ms Diana, tears welling in her eyes.
Mr Singh got married soon after Ms Diana left for Singapore.
The couple have a son, Hans Singh Sandhu, who is now about 10 years old.
The closely-knit group had planned to have a reunion in Penang next month.
They will still proceed with their plans - only this time, they will be holding a memorial service for Mr Singh.
Family lost 2 in MH370, and loses 2 more in MH17
TRAGIC: Australians Albert and Maree Rizk were killed in the MH17 air disaster, just months after members of their extended family were lost on board MH370. - PHOTOS: THE INTERNET
They lost two of their own when MH370 went missing.
Now, just four months later, this extended Australian family has again been hit by tragedy after losing two more family members in the MH17 disaster, reported AFP.
Albert and Maree Rizk, who were returning to Melbourne after a month-long holiday in Europe, were killed when the plane went down in Ukraine, Australian media reported.
A spokesman for the Rizk family, Mr Ken Grech, told the Herald Sun that the couple had tried to change their flight to avoid a lengthy stopover in KL.
They have two children and had lived in the Sunbury area for more than 20 years. They were believed to be involved with a number of local sporting clubs, reported The Age.
In a further tragic twist, Mrs Rizk is the stepdaughter of Ms Kaylene Mann, who lost her brother and sister-in-law, Rodney and Mary Burrows, in the MH370 disaster.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Burrows family has requested for privacy to deal with the latest loss.
Mr Rodney Burrows' brother, Mr Greg Burrows, did not want to make a statement on behalf of the Rizk family, but said: "We've got no ill feelings with Malaysia Airlines. Nobody could predict this one and nothing's been proven on the first one, so there's nothing there.
"We are still waiting for answers on the first (incident)," he said.
HEARTACHE: Madam Jamillah Noriah Abang Anuar, 72, showing pictures of daughter Ariza Ghazalee with her family.
They were returning to Malaysia for good after spending three years in Kazakhstan. - PHOTOS: FACEBOOK/ARIZA. GHAZALEE, THE STAR
M'SIAN GRANNY'S GRIEF
Closer to home, a grandmother in Kuching, Sarawak, lost six of her family members on the ill-fated flight.
Madam Jamilah Noriah Abang Anuar, 72, was looking forward to seeing her daughter Ariza Ghazalee, 47, son-in-law Tambi Jiee, 49, and their four teenage children, reported The Star.
"They were supposed to be home by 4pm for breaking of fast. This tragedy shatters me; my daughter and her family lost in a blink of an eye," Madam Jamilah told reporters at her home.
The family was returning from Kazakhstan, where Mr Tambi, a Shell employee, had been working for about three years. They were returning to Malaysia for good.
Madam Jamilah said she learnt of the tragedy at 1.30am yesterday, when she was woken up by family members.
"I was asleep. I received a call from my children, saying they were outside my house," she said, adding, "They told me. I cried. What can I do?"
Scottish couple bumped off doomed flight
SAFE: Scottish couple Barry and Izzy Sim were supposed to fly on doomed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with their baby. PHOTO: BBC NEWS
Mr Barry Sim and his wife Izzy were planning to travel to Kuala Lumpur with their baby.
But during check-in, staff at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport told them that there was only one seat left.
So the couple decided to switch to a later KLM flight.
The couple from Scotland were shocked when they found out hours later that the Boeing 777 they were supposed to be on had gone down in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Sim, from Aberdeenshire, told the Daily Telegraph: "You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
"We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going."
Mrs Sim said that there "must have been someone watching over us and saying 'you must not get on that flight'.
"We are very loyal to Malaysia Airlines and we always want to fly with Malaysia Airlines."
She added that her husband usually disliked flying with KLM.
"But at this moment, we are so glad to be on the KLM flight rather than that Malaysia Airlines flight," she said.
Mr Sim said he felt "philosophical" about what had happened and said they would take the KLM flight.
He said: "In my mind, lightning never strikes twice in the same place, so I am still philosophical that you get on the flight and you go about your life.
"I know my wife doesn't feel like that. Probably the last thing she wants to do now is fly, especially to Kuala Lumpur."