Floral tribute: Korobko and her daughter Emily, 10, laying a bouquet of flowers outside Schiphol Airport. — ISABELLE LAI
AMSTERDAM: The sweet smell of flowers laid by hundreds of mourners for the victims of MH17 fills the air outside Terminal 3 of Schiphol Airport.
Despite the hustle and bustle of the busy airport, there is a palpable air of grief along the MH17 shrine, which stretches halfway across the terminal outside its departure hall.
Some of the visitors to the shrine were passengers but many were Dutch citizens who had come to the airport to pay their respects at the very venue where the MH17 passengers had begun their fateful trip.
More than a week after the tragedy, mourners are struggling to understand how a commercial airliner could have gone down in such an unexpected manner and are deeply outraged that the crash site has still not been secured for proper investigation work.
Dutch citizen Oksana Korobko, 41, who immigrated from Ukraine over a decade ago, said she was horrified at the way the country had come under global scrutiny.
She said her family in Ukraine had expressed their sorrow over the incident, which occurred during the summer holidays when many people were flying abroad for a vacation.
“I know Ukrainians feel very sad and most of them don’t want this war. To them, the news about MH17 was worse than news about the conflict going on there,” she told The Star.
Korobko, who has two young daughters, was stricken by reports of looting at the crash site, as well as footage showing passengers’ belongings such as children’s books strewn around the area.
“My children have some of those exact books. I can barely imagine how the relatives of the victims feel, seeing their loved ones’ possessions handled like that,” she said.
Dutchman Theo Reymer, 49, who was on another flight on July 17, the same day MH17 crashed, said the people in the Netherlands were furious because some of the victims’ remains had still not been recovered as investigators could not access the site.
“We are very angry that the site is not safe. The longer we wait, the more things could be gone and the investigation compromised,” he said.
Jappie Groeneveld, 58, who brought a bouquet of roses to the shrine, was especially shaken because he and his family had been on a flight from Eindhoven to Romania at the exact same time on July 17.
“We kept thinking about how it could have happened to us. All the victims’ remains must be found and brought to Holland so they can be returned to their families,” he said.