Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Reeling at plane disaster

Shepparton man has family near crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

ESTELLE GRIEPINK July 19, 2014 3:55am

Ray Sharawara


Like millions of others across the world, Shepparton’s Ray Sharawara was overcome by shock yesterday when he turned on the television to see images of shot-down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed when the plane was brought down near the Ukrainan region of Donetsk early yesterday morning.

Twenty-eight Australians, including nine Victorians, were on board.

Mr Sharawara said his personal connection to the tragedy had him immediately worried about his family living in eastern Ukraine, not far from where the plane was shot down.

‘‘My family is from a place not far from the conflict and I also have family on the western side of Ukraine, near the Hungarian border,’’ Mr Sharawarma said.

‘‘I turned on the news about 7am and I was shocked to hear it.’’

All members of Mr Sharawara’s family are safe and well, but Mr Sharawara said he was fearful of a major conflict erupting. He had been following the escalating tensions between his parents’ homeland of Ukraine and Russia for many months.

Fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian troops over the sovereignty of parts of southern and eastern Ukraine has killed more than 400 people in the past few months, the United Nations says.

‘‘If the rebels backed by Russia have been responsible for this action there will be involvement from the West, primarily America and the United Nations,’’ he said.

‘‘There is a history between Ukraine and Russia and there has always been animosity between the two, and people are determined to get their way.

‘‘It is really distressing for the people who want to live there in harmony.’’

Mr Sharawara said his thoughts went out to the families of all the Australians who had lost their lives.

He also said it was devastating hundreds of innocent people had been killed as part of the civil conflict in Ukraine.

‘‘I just had relatives leave Amsterdam on (Thursday night) and fear went through our minds,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a very sad day for Ukraine and the world.’’


More details, page 36


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