MH17 tragedy takes a heavy toll on Australia

Victim: Perth man Nick Norris and his grandchildren died. Photo: Supplied
Victim: Perth man Nick Norris and his grandchildren died. Photo: Supplied
MH17 victims

MH17 victims

Melbourne student Elaine Teoh. Photo: Twitter

Melbourne student Elaine Teoh. Photo: Twitter

Sister Philomene Tiernan, (front centre) and others. Photo: Supplied

Sister Philomene Tiernan, (front centre) and others. Photo: Supplied

An Irish woman who spent the last two decades living in Perth is the latest Australian to be named among the 298 people who were killed on board MH17.

Married mother-of-two Edel Mahady was on her way home from visiting Ireland when she lost her life, the has reported.

Mrs Mahady is first cousin of the wife of elected Irish Labour politician Willie Penrose and was visiting relatives who live near to Dublin.

A source told that the family of the woman was "devastated".

"It's extremely traumatic for them, they are trying to come to terms with it," they said.

Mrs Mahady's husband and two children had not travelled to Ireland and are being comforted by friends at their home in Perth in Australia.

The Independent reports that Mrs Mahady worked as a school administrator in the Good Sheppard Catholic Primary School in Kelmscott outside Perth in Western Australia.

A nun from Sydney, a married Melbourne couple who had just toured Europe and a West Australian grandfather and his grandchildren returning from a holiday are also among the 28 Australian victims.

It was earlier reported that 27 Australians had died, but Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says 28 Australians are now known to have died and fears that number may rise.

Of the 298 who died in the crash in the Ukraine, nine victims were from each of Queensland and Victoria, seven from Western Australian and one each from NSW and the ACT.

The lone NSW resident was Sister Philomene Tiernan, who worked at one of Sydney's best-known independent schools, Kincoppal-Rose Bay.

Kincoppal principal Hilary Johnston-Croke said staff and students were saddened and shocked by the news of Sister Philomene's death.

"She was a beloved, wise and compassionate person loved by all," she said.

Hundreds of students and teachers attended an assembly at the school's Rose Bay campus on Friday afternoon to talk about the teacher who was loved by all.

It is understood a number of people spoke about Sister Philomene during the assembly inside the Maureen Tudehope Centre. Teary colleagues put their arms around each other and hugged as they walked out of afternoon assembly.

A number of teachers were seen consoling a number of students who had just learnt of the tragic news.

Melbourne couple Albert and Maree Rizk are believed to have been returning from a month-long holiday in Europe. The pair from Sunbury, north-west of Melbourne, had been travelling with friends who took an earlier flight.

One of Mr Rizk's colleagues said the couple’s family, including their two children, had been contacted by officials to notify them of their deaths.

Sunbury Football Club president Phil Lithgow told Fairfax Media that the Rizks were major figures in the club community, which was shaken by the news.

“They were fantastic people, Albert was a committee member, sponsor of the club, Maree was a canteen helper, their son plays in our senior football team,” he said.

“They were very generous with their time in the community.”

Hume City councillor Jack Ogilvie, based in Sunbury, said the community was in shock.

"We are all shaking our head in shock," Cr Ogilvie said.

"They were fantastic people ... Albert was one of the guys who was always the life of the party."

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett released a statement saying he was "horrified and deeply shocked" to hear about the crash and confirming there were seven West Australians on board.

Among those killed from Western Australia is believed to be Nick Norris, who had been on holidays in Europe with his grandchildren. Mr Norris, a managing director of a Perth-based change management consultancy company, frequently traveled to Britain for work.

A member of the South Perth Yacht Club - of which Mr Norris was also a member - described him as “a lovely bloke” while speaking to Radio 6PR reporter Lisa Barnes.

The man said Mr Norris often stuck around for a beer after sailing to "talk about life".

South Perth Yacht Club commodore Paul Ward said his death came as a shock to close-knit yachting community, and that the club would do everything possible to support his wife Lindy and his family.

“I got a phone call at half past six this morning, and it was quite devastating, really,” he said.

“I sailed with Nick many years ago in the Flying 15s when we were both young enough to do that.

“You always hear about these things and you always think about the poor people and families involved, but when it cuts close to home it’s a lot more real and a lot more difficult to deal with.

“Nick and Lindy were very active members of the club, their children grew up through the club system.

“They were always active in supporting and volunteering and Nick will be very very sadly missed.

“The club’s a good community and we always get behind any member that has a loss, especially Nick and Wendy, they’re not old people and still very active boaters."

There are also grave concerns for a Melbourne University student, Elaine Teoh, whose friends believe she was on the flight.

A University of Melbourne spokeswoman said she could not confirm reports of Ms Teoh's death.

"We're waiting on confirmation," she said. "We're not sure if she's an alumnus or a current student. We're following it up now."

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirmed that nine Queenslanders were victims of the disaster.

Further information about the Queensland victims, including their ages and where they lived, had not been made available as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was notifying next of kin.


This story MH17 tragedy takes a heavy toll on Australia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.