Ground crew member who checked in MH17 passengers recalls ‘a laugh, a greeting, a happy face’


A security worker signs a condolence register at the airport in Amsterdam. (Patrick Post/AP)

Here's what Renuka Manisha Virangna Birbal says she remembers seeing before Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 took off: Families with loads of luggage. A grandmother taking pictures. Newlyweds, headed to their honeymoon.

"My colleague helps an elderly woman inside, all the way to her seat in row 21, she had difficulty walking and traveling alone," Birbal wrote on Facebook. "The lady had the same name (one letter difference) as the son of my colleague and said that she would remembered the name." (We use the English translation on Facebook.)

Birbal was reportedly part of the ground crew that checked in the nearly 300 passengers who boarded the Malaysia Airlines jet, which was shot down over Ukraine earlier this month. After the crash, she shared her memories of what she saw at the airport  on Facebook; her post, written in Dutch, has been shared more than 15,000 times.

"A beautiful little girl hold by her mother, her father behind them pushing the stroller," she wrote, according to the English translation on her Facebook post. "A half Dutch half Malaysian with beautiful big eyes. She kindly smiled at me."

In an e-mail to The Post, Malaysia Airlines said that Manisha Virangna Birbal was working the day of the crash, and is part of the Aviapartner staff. Aviapartner directed questions to Malaysia Airlines.

"Suddenly I see a familiar face, it is our colleague from the MH ticket counter," Birbal wrote. "He proudly shows me his son, wife and daughter. With a big smile he waved 'See you soon.'"

You can read the full post on Facebook. We've also embedded it below.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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