Netherlands steeped in grief

"There is too much grief here," a friend of two Dutch families killed in the catastrophic downing of MH17 said quietly.

Family and friends of Remco and Yvonne Trugg and Leon and Conny Wels and their children have been gathering in shock at their homes, both in the same quiet street in Rosmalen, a town of about 35,000 people an hour south of Amsterdam.

The two families were close friends, their homes facing each other across a grass square with swings and park benches.

Like many of the 193 Dutch killed in the missile attack, they were heading off on summer holidays.

The Truggs' daughters Tess, 10, and Liv, 7, and seven-year-old Sem Wels were excited about their trip to Bali.

They never made it and, instead, their grieving families are trying to come to grips with knowing they were innocent victims of a war their country was not involved in.

Comforting each other, relatives read tributes left with flowers, teddy bears and candles outside the families' homes and teammates from the men's social football club met on Saturday to honour their friends.

Even as the disbelief starts to wear off that MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, the public anger and questions have been mostly left to officials in the Netherlands. There are no emotional scenes from grieving families at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, where MH17 took off for Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Tearful and shell-shocked relatives who arrived at the airport on Thursday were quickly taken away to an unknown location and given the devastating confirmation of their loss in private.

Malaysia Airlines has learnt lessons from the aftermath of missing Flight MH370 in March, when families angrily demanded answers and information was too slow to come.

Many of the heartbroken relatives of this tragedy remain in a hotel not far from the departure terminals, their privacy fiercely protected by police guards.

Malaysia Airlines says there it can provide them with the support of crisis care teams and what information it can.

It is unknown how they are reacting to reports that bodies and the belongings of their loved ones are being looted or that it is likely to take weeks before the remains are returned to their families.

Malaysia Airlines has not said how many relatives of the 298 passengers and crew want to go to the remote crash site, about 500km from Kiev, if it can safely organise a trip there.

The airline is planning to retire the MH17 flight code out of respect for those who died.

Passengers who flew out of Amsterdam on an MH17 flight on Saturday had mixed views about getting on a plane and some said they would have flown another airline if the company had not changed its route to avoid the war zone.

Teenager Khalisha Anjani said she was "hoping to be alive in 16 hours" and revealed she was supposed to be on the doomed flight.

But she failed an exam in her university business studies and had to stay in Rotterdam two more days.

The Indonesian 18-year-old said: "I decided to re-sit my last exam and that practically saved my life."

Melbourne man Zeb Woodhatch said he and his partner had considered changing their tickets.

But they believed it was a terrible accident that would not happen again, particularly as the airline was no longer flying over Ukraine.

"There's always a little bit of hesitation with flying but you take ... a risk when you get into a car," Mr Woodhatch said.

"We didn't know anyone on the plane but our hearts go out to everyone involved."

Those boarding the flight were among many who paid tribute to the victims at a floral shrine outside the terminal.

The West Australian

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