Sometimes, a few words can sum up the feelings of millions: “Holland is mourning. The world is in shock. This should never have happened. RIP.”
It is one of the poignant messages tacked to the bundles of flowers spreading out on the Schiphol Airport concourse – tributes to the many victims aboard Flight MH17 who were caught in the crossfire of a distant conflict.
The random nature of the tragedy is something Sheoratan Pradiep is struggling to comprehend. His sister-in-law’s nephew had recently married and was heading for a honeymoon in Malaysia with his new wife when their plane came down. Now, Mr Pradiep is searching for information about the separatist insurgency gripping eastern Ukraine, hoping to make some sense of the family’s loss.
“I didn’t realise that it was a big conflict over there, so when I heard about the plane crash and the cause of it, I was shocked,” the 50-year-old bus driver told The Independent as he views the floral tributes.
“It’s very terrible... I hear from the news that the plane was shot down and the people blame each other, so I don’t know what is true.”
The claims and counter-claims on the ground will have little impact on the relatives’ immediate grief. Right now they are waiting for news of their loved ones at a functional business hotel a short drive from the airport.
Police guard the entrance and when a car or bus carrying family members arrives, they are shielded from the media and ushered inside.