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MH17 victims' family: Airline lacking compassion


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The family of two brothers killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 called the carrier rigid and bureaucratic Saturday, saying it has offered them no professional grief counselling in more than a week and refused to organize a flight home to Houston for the boys' grandmother.

Harun Calehr, the uncle of victims Miguel and Shaka Panduwinata, said the family's frustration has grown as they felt they had to haggle for help from the airline in the days after the Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

"You know, one would have hoped that there would have been more compassion, more understanding, and not such a rigid, bureaucratic attitude towards everything that we need," Calehr said.

"Everything that we got, we had to fight for," Calehr said.

Along with other relatives of victims, the family was put up in a hotel at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and was tended to by Malaysia Airlines staff in the days after the disaster.

Miguel and Shaka Panduwinata were on their way from Amsterdam to Bali for a vacation with their grandmother when Flight 17 was shot down, killing all 298 passengers and crew.

The family complains that there has been no offer of any grief counselling by the airline, that it refused to pay for the boys' grandmother to fly home to Texas from Amsterdam and that it has not yet paid out an initial reimbursement of $5,000 it pledged to victims' next of kin.

Addressing the issue of the grandmother's flight, Malaysia Airlines said in a written response emailed to The Associated Press that only "immediate next-of-kin" are eligible for travel reimbursements. But it added, "this situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis."

The carrier added that distributing the $5,000 payment to next-of-kin "requires a thorough verification process."

"The documentations are being prepared as we speak," it said.

Malaysia Airlines did not specifically address the complaint about lack of counseling, but pledged to focus on the needs of family members.

Miguel and Shaka's next of kin are not the only ones who have not received the $5,000 payout that is meant to cover initial expenses incurred by grieving families.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died on their way to a vacation in Bali, said she has not received any money yet.

"I'm just waiting," she said. "I have the feeling it is not very organized."

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Wally July 26 2014 at 6:12 PM

The airline did not shoot the plane down. Why is everyone coming down on the airline that had nothing to do with the downing of the plane? People say it's not about the money. That's a lie. It's all about the money. If it wasn't donate all awards to charity. Never happen.

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10 replies
crazy ray July 26 2014 at 7:06 PM

I guess grief makes you greedy. The airline didn't cause the disaster. Curse the Russians if ya gotta problem. But don't blame the malaysians. How deep do you think their pockets are? These people should be ashamed of their greed.

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4 replies
Gary Miller July 26 2014 at 4:03 PM

My daughter was killed in a car accident and we got jack...what's with all the money people think they are owed just because a next of kin died? I don't get it. And I UNDERSTAND what it is to lose a child

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4 replies
hahudz July 26 2014 at 7:11 PM

Truly, why would they think the airline is required to offer them grief counseling?
If you think you need it, go to a social worker or therapist on your own. People got through WW1, WWII, Korea, Nam etc., and there wasn't 'grief counseling'. Not to belittle the pain any of these folks are feeling, but it is not the airline's responsibility, lady.

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3 replies
Kate July 26 2014 at 3:54 PM

While I think it is imperative that the airline act as quickly as it can, there are bound to be complications when it comes to verifying everyone's claim-- that's almost 300 people. And while they must have offices in Amsterdam, they are not a European company, so the staff in The Netherlands is probably completely swamped.

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2 replies
vietnamvet1967 Kate July 26 2014 at 6:11 PM

So How many years will they stall off the people, Kinda like the US, then it would be Buried, and no one will notice it

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2 replies
calderasf vietnamvet1967 July 26 2014 at 7:28 PM

Wwhat about US I don't see any connection?

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juststeve35 vietnamvet1967 July 26 2014 at 8:06 PM


Son, it's time for you to mature beyond this absurd and terribly dishonest spewage.

Flag 0 rate up
videodf Kate July 26 2014 at 8:48 PM

He's an idiot. Just another troll who wants to blame everyone and get rewarded money he didn't have to earn. Sounds like a democrap to me!

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1 reply
Catzs videodf July 26 2014 at 10:46 PM

Excuse me Vid....or whomever you are...that sounds more like a repub response......I can't stand f^ing pubs and their lame and cold excuses for everything in iife.

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Karen July 26 2014 at 4:24 PM

That's what travel insurance is for.

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1 reply
chefmachinist Karen July 26 2014 at 7:36 PM

karen, you are an ignorant douchbag. You know damned well that is NOT what travel insurance is for. How incredibly glib and insensitive and downright cavalier of you. Shame! What if your family was blown to bits in mid air-? chalk it up to "bad travel insurance"?

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1 reply
juststeve35 chefmachinist July 26 2014 at 8:08 PM

I would go after the RUSSIANS WHO SHOT IT DOWN...

This is like suing the World Trade Center because a buncha jackwagons crashed planes into them.

Or suing AVIS because some drunk a-hole drove one their rentals into your home.


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Taina July 26 2014 at 8:59 PM

This was not the airline's fault, no matter what the ambulance chasers say. Contact Russia. Stop feeling entitled. Life isn't always fair.

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1 reply
coffeetime9 Taina July 27 2014 at 2:42 AM

I agree, it is not the airline's fault. The plane was shot down. Some people think they should get money even when no one is at fault. Go sue Russia

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blackbelt.ron July 26 2014 at 7:09 PM

Imagine that YOU lost your wife
or your daughter
or your son
or your mother-in-law...
O.K. skip the mother-in-law...
This is a sad time.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
4 replies
CPA11973 July 26 2014 at 8:44 PM

for the families that are complaining, tell your government you want the perps prosecuted for murder then you can sue them in your country's courts. You may even want to sue the Russians as co-conspiritors.

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aldebaron July 26 2014 at 10:26 PM

malaysia airline is as much a victim as the passengers...money should not be at the center of this tragedy...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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