Philippine News, Manila — The Department of Foreign Affairs has released the names of the Filipino mother and her two children who were among those killed in the Malaysia Airlines flight crash in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
Irene Gunawan, 54, and her two children Sherryl Shania Gunawan, 14, and Darryl Dwight Gunawan, 20, based in the Netherlands, were traveling back to the Philippines for a family reunion. Their flight, MH17, with a total of 298 passengers and crew onboard, was shot out of the air over disputed territories in the region.
The Boeing 777 plane is believed to have been hit by a military-grade surface-to-air ‘Buk’ missile fired by Ukrainian separatist rebels who are backed by Moscow.
DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said that the embassy and the DFA are both ready to provide assistance to the victims’ families.
“Our embassy in Kuala Lumpur and the DFA are both prepared to extend all the necessary assistance to the families of the three victims, starting first of all, if the next-of-kin would like to visit wherever the remains would be taken and our embassy will help in facilitating their visit. And if the family would like to repatriate the remains back to the Philippines, our embassy will also assist them,” he said.
The brother of Irene Gunawan, Tirso Pabellon, said on Friday his relatives were supposed to arrive earlier that day. He added that they had no contact with the victims because of the power outage caused by Typhoon Glenda but had already been advised of their travel plans. The family verified the news of their tragic loss, through another sibling abroad.
He described his sister Irene as the breadwinner of their family. Irene’s Indonesian husband was also amongst those killed in the crash.
The other victims include 189 Dutch, 29 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, and one person each from Canada and New Zealand. U.S. officials have not yet confirmed reports that 23 Americans were also on board.
There remains a state of confusion surrounding the origin of the missile, with both sides claiming the other to be responsible, and the whereabouts of the black box recorders, which could provide the vital evidence.
Separatist rebels controlling the crash site, gave conflicting reports on Friday whether they had found the plane’s recording devices or not.
“No black boxes have been found … we hope that experts will track them down and create a picture of what has happened,” said Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Borodai.
In a statement earlier on Friday, an aide to the military leader of Borodai’s group said authorities had recovered eight out of 12 recording devices from the plane. However, only two black boxes are carried on each flight, so it is unclear if this statement is reliable.
In the Netherlands on Friday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte was quoted in the Volkskrant newspaper, that the crash was ‘one of the worst air disasters in Dutch history’.
‘Everything points to pro-Russian rebels’, the paper said, and asked why the plane was allowed to fly over a ‘war zone’.
The newspaper speculated that if the crash is proved to be the work of pro-Russian forces, Moscow will be faced with a diplomatic storm.’
The revolt in eastern Ukraine will be Russia’s Frankenstein’s monster,’ the paper said. ‘The Kremlin faces a difficult choice. It can drop the rebels, close the borders and watch as the Ukrainian army deals with the rebellion. That would be a difficult pill for Putin to swallow. But the alternative would be equally unattractive – a return to the dark days of the Cold War.’