A dark day for the Netherlands..

Dutch flag flying at half-mast, Schipol Airport, Amsterdam.

Dutch flag flying at half-mast, Schipol Airport, Amsterdam.

Just a day ago, shocking news filled our television screens. A plane had been downed while flying over Ukraine air space. It was not just any plane, it was a commercial jet; Malaysian Airlines with men, women and children on board. It had taken off from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport and was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia later that evening.

For many of us resident in the Netherlands, it was more shocking to realize that the majority of those on board were nationals of this country, 193 souls to be precise..people who had worked long and hard during the year, and just wanted to take a break and vacation in Asia.

The ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the last posting of Cor Pan, an entrepreneur flower shop owner in Volendam.

The ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the last posting of Cor Pan, an entrepreneur flower shop owner in Volendam.

The Asian continent is special to many of us. Personally, I love Asia. The food, the culture, the climate and the fact that I do not have to break my bank account while there. Each time I’m back from there, I’m already dreaming about my next trip. Not even the long hours in-flight can keep me away. The last time I was in the region, my return leg was from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam. There are frequent flights between the two continents. Countries in the region, most notably Indonesia are special to the Netherlands; as a former colony, and has remained strongly connected throughout the years, whether it be through the spicy-sambal influence in a number of dutch cuisines to the many inter-marriages.

What is most shocking about the whole issue is that the plane didn’t come down on its own, rather it was brought down in a strange twisted case of mistaken identity. Several Ukrainian-military jets had been brought down in this incomprehensible war, and it is unimaginable to think that pro-Russian separatists brought the plane down with a BUK surface-to-air missile, thinking that it was just another Ukraine-military plane, yet it was a civilian passenger jet.

The downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 (courtesy of Mail online).

The downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 (courtesy of  Daily Mail online).

Some of the souls on board were people going to celebrate Ramadhan, others were going for vacation and yet many others were scientists and activists heading to Melbourne for an HIV-Aids conference. 6 of the brightest brains in HIV research were on that plane, lead by virologist Joep Lange.  Expatica boss Antoine van Veldhuizen was on the flight together with his wife and children. Labour Senator Willem Witteveen as well lost his life, Pim de Kuijer of Stop Aids was on that flight. A total of 80 children were on board.

Prominent Aids researcher Joep Lange.

Prominent Aids researcher Joep Lange.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte declared that it was a dark day for the Netherlands.  These were people just getting on with life, trying to make the world a better place,vacationing and were caught in a crossfire of a battle not their own…may their souls RIP…

10 replies »

  1. I’m so sorry. It was an awful day for Holland and a sad, dark dayfor the world. Will people never learn that war isn’t the answer and just brings misery, pain, and hurt to innocent people, and sometimes to even those who want to help.


  2. Thank you! It’s one of the traveler’s nightmares: receiving bad news from home. As a traveling Dutchman, the 17th of July was such a day for me. Upon hearing it the questions go through your head at an amazingly high speed: Are there victims that I know? Did I know of anyone flying between the two cities that day… The thing is: a plane that crashes of a mechanical fault is one thing, but this was done by a finger around a trigger. That makes it a lot harder to digest.

    Anyway, thank you for your post!


    • I can understand, especially when you see it coming up in the International news channels, that a flight originating from Amsterdam, crashed over was so sad just getting to know that it was not a problem with the plane but someone brought it down..It is indeed a traveler’s nightmare, not knowing whether they will arrive on the other side..thanks too for your comments. For many people here, even though they didn’t know people personally, they found out they knew people who were affected, either directly or indirectly…:-(


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