Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Family of 6 from Kuching perish on board

Jamillah showing the family photo album at her home. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Jamillah showing the family photo album at her home. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUCHING (The Star/Asia News Network) - An entire family from Kuching, who were on their way back from Kazakhstan transiting via Amsterdam, perished on board the ill-fated Flight Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Mr Tambi Jiee, 49, from Kampung Gobielt, was with his wife Ariza Ghazalee, 47, and four children - Mohd Afif, 19, Mohd Afzal, 17, Marsha Azmeena, 15, and Mohd Afruz, 13.

The family was returning from Kazakhstan, where Mr Tambi, a Shell employee, had been working for about three years.

Their eldest son was a student at Taylor's College in Kuala Lumpur while the three other children were studying in Kazakhstan.

The family was coming back to Malaysia for good.

Mr Tambi had been transferred to Shell's Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and before reporting to work in the nation's capital, he was coming home to celebrate Hari Raya, according to Ms Ariza's mother Jamillah Noriah Abg Anuar on Friday.

The distraught 72-year-old told reporters that she learnt of the tragedy at 1.30am when she was woken up by family members.

"I was asleep. I received a call from my children, saying they were outside my house," Jamillah recounted. "They told me. I cried. What can I do?"

Ms Jamillah had spoken to Mr Tambi and his family only hours ago before they perished. "They called me from Amsterdam. It was a normal conversation."

She said she was excited about their scheduled arrival at the Kuching International Airport at 2pm on Friday.

"They come back to Kuching three to four times a year when they can. Usually, they'll stay in Kuala Lumpur for a few days. This time, they were coming back to Kuching straight away," she said.

Ms Ariza took early retirement to accompany her husband to Kazakhstan.

An engineer by training, she was an employee of the Bintulu Development Authority, according to family members.

Ms Ariza was also an avid social media user. Prior to boarding MH17, she uploaded photos of their packed bags on Facebook and Twitter.

A total of three Shell Malaysia employees were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which crashed in Ukraine on Thursday.

A company spokesman confirmed that the employees were on board the aircraft which was enroute to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our three colleagues and friends, and we mourn their loss and the loss of the lives of everyone on board Flight MH17," the spokesman said on Friday.

The spokesman added that Shell Malaysia was rendering its support to the families of its employees who were on the flight.

Flight MH17 disappeared from radar screens in eastern Ukraine at around 2.15am GMT, hours after the Boeing 777, bound for Kuala Lumpur, had taken off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

It is believed to have been accidentally shot down 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border.

All 298 passengers on board are believed to have perished.

The area is currently being held by pro-Russian separatists.