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Malaysia Airlines Crash in Ukraine Brings on Heart-Wrenching Déjà Vu for Chinese Families Still Waiting on MH370 Answers

Ukrainians bring flowers, candles and toys to the entrance of the Dutch Embassy in Kiev on June 17, 2014. Malaysian Airlines airliner MH17 Amsterdam - Kuala Lumpur was shot down earlier in the day. Photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak. Copyright Demotix

Ukrainians bring flowers, candles and toys to the entrance of the Dutch Embassy in Kiev on June 17, 2014. Malaysian Airlines airliner MH17 Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur was shot down earlier in the day. Photo by Oleksandr Ratushniak. Copyright Demotix

The crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, has touched a nerve among many Chinese families whose loved ones were on Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared en route from Malaysia to China in March. 

Flight MH17 was brought down by a missile on Thursday near Torez, an area controlled by pro-Russia separatists, according to Reuters news agency. The Ukrainian government and the rebels are accusing each other of being responsible for the crash. The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

In response to the incident, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Friday, “We feel shocked after learning about the crash of the Malaysian airliner MH17 in eastern Ukraine. We offer our deep condolences and sincere sympathy to families of the victims. We hope the cause will be identified soon.”

The ministry later confirmed that a Hong Kong resident was killed in the incident. 

Memories are still fresh for those who don't know what happened to their loved ones after airliner MH370 vanished from radar screen a few hours after it left Kuala Lumpur on March 8. The plane, which was travelling with 239 people on board, has yet to be found. The disappearance has sparked perhaps the most extensive international search and rescue effort in aviation history. 

No one was believed to have survived the twin plane incidents. There were 154 Chinese on board of MH370. MH17 was carrying mostly Dutch nationals.

Reacting to the second Malaysian airliner tragedy in the span of a few months, the MH370 Family Committee, an online community formed shortly after the incident by Chinese relatives of those on board, posted this on Twitter-like site Sina Weibo:

MH17航班的最新进展也牵动着我们MH370的家属们,有得家属一直在看直播,泪流不止,家属微信群里也不停的讨论和祈祷,希望MH17的家属坚强。接连不断的航空事故让我们不得不问,航空安全在哪里?难道以后坐飞机都要变成坐过山车一样提心吊胆了吗?

The latest development of MH17 has also affected us, the MH370 family members. Some are watching live reports while shedding tears nonstop, and we are using Wechat to discuss the incident and keep praying. We hope MH17 family members can stay strong. These constant plane incidents have made us wonder, where is aviation safety? Do we have to keep worrying and go on an emotional roller coasters every time we board a plane?

On Friday, the Family Committee sent out an additional message in English: “To us, it’s still a mystery where our loved ones are. Our torture and fear continue every day.”

Chinese web users offered their condolences and comments about the tragedy on social media. 

“LovelySmile Yue” lashed out in anger at Malaysia Airlines

#马航客机被击落#MH370还没有给中国人一个交代,又来了MH17。马航,你是要告诉全世界,所有空难都被你包了吗?无奈,逝者安息吧!

Malaysian airliner shot down. MH370 still owes the Chinese an answer, and now comes the MH17 crash. Malaysian Airlines, are you trying to tell the world that you will bear all the plane crashes in the world? How helpless are we, may those who deceased rest in peace!

Others, like China's former Education Ministry spokesman Wang Xuming, were sympathetic towards the airliner, which has come under increasing criticism and financial troubles: 

马航一客机在乌克兰坠毁,在我们对遇难者表示哀悼和对他们的亲属表示慰问和同情的同时,让我们又想起了那架同样是马航的失联飞机。同一个国家、同一个航空公司短短的时间内发生了同样的空难,命运啊命运,这是怎样的命运!所以,同情马来西亚,同情马航,同情所有因命运而不幸的人们。

Another passenger jet has crashed in Ukraine. While we offer our condolences to the relatives of those on board, the incident also reminds us of the other missing Malaysian airliner. Plane crashes affecting the same country's airliner in a short amount of time. Fate, what kind of fate is this! Therefore, I feel sympathy for Malaysia and Malaysian Airlines and those who have unfortunately lost their lives.

“Nianzihan Magical” from Beijing wrote

坠落瞬间的惊恐和挣扎,是我们这些坐在电视机前的看客难以体会的。人如蝼蚁,那一刻终于才不分什么头等公务经济舱,共同面对命运的残忍。逝者一路走好 

The horror and struggle as [the plane] plunges to the ground are what we can make sense of sitting in front of our television sets. Human beings are like ants, and it was during that moment that we see no difference between first class and economy, passengers all have to face the cruelty together. May the deceased all rest in peace.

Meiyutang, an employee of the nationalistic Global Times newspaper, speculated how the crash will affect Russia's support in China:

几个朋友分析认为,乌东部武装击落飞机的可能性较大,但蓄意可能性较小,误伤可能性较大。若是如此,即便误伤,也必遭严惩;而俄罗斯从此会被更加孤立,中国与俄罗斯开展外交,在国内舆论得到的支持度,也恐怕会大大降低…

According to some analysis from my friends, it's more possible that the Eastern [rebel] forces shot down the plane, but it's more likely an act of negligence rather than a deliberate act. Even if it's a negligent act, [those who are responsible] will be punished; Russia will be more isolated in the future and China's public discourse will be shifting away from supporting Russia when the country conducts its diplomacy.

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