Malaysia Airlines crash: British family turned away from flight MH17 say 'someone was watching over us'

Barry Sim tried to board the doomed plane with his wife and baby son

A British family have said they believed someone was “watching over them” when a twist of fate stopped them boarding the doomed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Barry and Izzy Sim tried to board the plane from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday with their baby son but they were turned away because only one seat was available.

The dejected family booked on to an alternative KLM flight with no idea of their incredible escape.

After hearing of the crash, Mr Sim told the BBC: “You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going.”

Mr Sim, reportedly from Methlick in Aberdeenshire, said he was “philosophical” about continuing to “go about your life” and believed they should take the KLM flight as planned despite his wife's misgivings.

“In my mind, lightning never strikes twice in the same place so I am still philosophical that you get on the flight and you go about your life,” he said.

Video: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash

“I know my wife doesn't feel like that. Probably the last thing she wants to do now is fly, especially to Kuala Lumpur.”

Mrs Sim said she and her family were “very loyal” to Malaysia Airlines, which was still struggling to recover from the disappearance of MH370 in March before the latest tragedy.

“There must have been someone watching over us and saying 'You must not get on that flight',” she told the BBC.

"At this moment we are so glad to be on that KLM flight rather than that Malaysia Airlines flight."

Other people on board were not so lucky and at least one crew member was believed to have been moved on to the flight at the last minute.

Sanjid Singh, an air steward, was only on the doomed jet because he agreed to a rota swap, the Malaysian Insider reported.

It said that in a "bizarre twist of fate" Mr Singh's wife escaped death on flight MH370 131 days ago because she too organised a shift change.

Nine Britons, 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 38 Malaysians, 23 US citizens and 80 children were among those on board Boeing 777-200 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Flames and smoke amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine Flames and smoke amongst the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine

None of the 298 and crew survived the crash, near the town of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine, which has seen fierce fighting between separatist militias and government troops.

Both pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government denied shooting the aircraft down after US authorities said intelligence analysis showed it had been hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Read more: Up to 100 Aids researchers on MH17
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