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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: First Pictures Of The Tragic Victims Emerge

18/07/2014 11:36 BST | Updated 18/07/2014 17:59 BST

Pioneering AIDS doctors, Newcastle United fans, children on their holidays and a Catholic nun. The tragic victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are being increasingly identified as they are mourned by family, friends, and colleagues.

The passenger jet was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur at an altitude of 33,000ft (10,000m) when contact was lost yesterday afternoon and it crashed near the border with Russia in Eastern Ukraine. The 298 people on board are all believed to be dead.

On Friday morning, it emerged that among the 283 passengers and 15 crew on board were nine Britons, 173 Dutch, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander.

The plane was shot down in an "act of terrorism", Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has said, while both pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government have denied shooting the aircraft down.

US authorities said intelligence analysis showed the plane had been hit by a surface-to-air missile, killing all crew and passengers, including three Australian children, aged between eight and 12, who were travelling with their grandfather.

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Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin

Amidst the tragic stories emerging, it has been revealed as many as 100 of the world's most eminent AIDS researchers and experts may have been on the downed plane, heading to a United Nations AIDS conference in Melbourne.

One of the British victims was 49-year-old Glenn Thomas, a media officer at the World Health Organisation who previously worked as a journalist for the BBC and was described as a "wonderful person and a great professional".

As tributes were paid to Mr Thomas today, WHO spokesman Fadela Chaib said: "For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve. We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional. Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock."

Three infants are among the dead, and up to 80 children are feared dead. The nationalities of 20 passengers have yet to be verified.

Newcastle United football fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney are believed to have been on their way to watch their beloved team's pre-season tour of New Zealand.

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Liam Sweeney

Mr Alder, who was in his 60s was apparently known to other fans as The Undertaker because of his tradition of wearing a suit to every game and was known for his mullet-style haircut.

He is thought only to have missed a single match since he started attending in 1973, and follows the team around the world for their away games.

Distraught friends are mourning a Leeds University student who is also believed to have been on board flight MH17 which was shot down near the Ukraine-Russia border.

Richard Mayne, a British national from Leicestershire, is thought to have been one of the victims who perished on the Boeing 777.

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Friends have paid tribute to Richard Mayne, thought to have been a student at Leeds University

Ben Pocock, a former Wellsway School pupil who was studying at Loughborough University and believed to be in his early 20s, was also on board Flight MH17, Bristol Post is reporting.

According to his Twitter feed, Mr Pocock had just passed his end of year exams and was heading for Australia.

He tweeted on Monday: "Didn't fail my exams. Still going to Australia."

malaysia ben pocock

A Catholic nun from Sydney was also on board the flight. Sister Philomena Tiernan, was a “much loved” teacher at the Catholic school Kincoppal-Rose Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, and was returning from a retreat in France.

Hilary Johnston-Croke, the school principal, wrote to parents confirming the loss of her wise and compassionate” colleague.

“We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman who was greatly loved by us all,” she wrote, The Australian reported.

One young Dutch man posted an Instagram image of his plane tickets and wrote about his excitement in heading overseas before boarding the doomed flight.

Instagram user Regis Crolla a picture of his ticket with the phrase "I'm so excited" before boarding the Boeing 777. He also wrote the words "AMS -> Kuala Lumpur -> Bali". The tickets visible in a photo showed he would travel from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and then on to Denpasar on MH17.

In one especially tragic twist, it has been reported that an Australian woman whose brother and sister-in-law died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished in March has lost her stepdaughter and stepdaughter’s husband, who were aboard the second Malaysia Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine.

Kaylene Mann, of Brisbane, was too distraught to speak publicly on Friday and requested privacy to deal with her latest loss. Mrs Mann was the sister of Rod Burrows, who died along with his wife Mary on Flight MH370, which disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean on March 8.

Mrs Mann’s stepdaughter, Marie Rizk and her stepdaughter’s husband, Albert Rizk, a Melbourne real estate agent, were returning from a month-long holiday in Europe, on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

In an even more cruel twist, a spokesman for the Rizk family, Ken Grech, said the couple tried to change their flight to avoid a lengthy stopover in Kuala Lumpur, the Herald Sun reported.

As the magnitude of the horror is clarified, here we remember the victims of those on board:

Victims of Air Malaysia Flight MH17

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Flight MH17 was said by eyewitnesses to have "exploded" after it was reportedly shot down by a ground-to-air missile.

In a statement released this morning, Malaysia Airlines said: "With immediate effect, all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will be taking alternative routes avoiding the usual route.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines confirms that the aircraft did not make a distress call.

"The usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.

Victims of Air Malaysia Flight MH17