Scot among 298 victims of Malaysia Airlines crash

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FORMER RAF Lossiemouth search and rescue co-ordinator Stephen Anderson was among the ten British passengers on the downed plane.

Anderson, 44, who went to school in Inverness, served in the RAF for 23 years before becoming a technician for Maersk Drilling in Malaysia in 2010.

Stephen Anderson, 44, a former RAF search and rescue co-ordinator at Lossiemouth, was among those on board MH17. Picture: Contributed

Stephen Anderson, 44, a former RAF search and rescue co-ordinator at Lossiemouth, was among those on board MH17. Picture: Contributed

His niece reportedly posted photos on a social media site with the message: “Rest in Peace Uncle Steve. You didn’t deserve to die. No one on that flight did. I love you so much.”

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Cabin crew lay flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Picture: Getty

Cabin crew lay flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport in memory of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Picture: Getty

Scot, wife and baby narrowly avoided boarding MH17

First Minister Alex Salmond said today: “We have learned today that one Scot is known to have died in this appalling atrocity.

“As we prepare to welcome the Commonwealth Games to Scotland, we should note that around a third of the 298 victims came from Commonwealth nations.

“On behalf of the Scottish Government and the people of Scotland, I extend my condolences to their family, and to the families of all of the victims who have died in this horrific event.”

Anderson is believed to have moved to Penang with his wife Joanna, 37. He had a daughter, Jordan, who lives in Moray with his former wife.

He was a keen golfer, road runner, footballer, mountain biker and bagpiper.

He worked for Copenhagen-based Maersk Drilling as a hydraulic technician, responsible for supervising and maintaining drilling equipment.

Anderson was educated at Inverness Royal Academy and joined the RAF as apprentice aircraft mechanical engineer in 1986.

He rose to manage a team of mechanical technicians at RAF Marham in Norfolk in 200 for five years before moving to RAF Lossiemouth.

Anderson was senior search and rescue controller at the Moray base for three years, then switched to become aircraft maintenance team leader for fast jets there until he left the RAF in 2010.

He described himself on his LinkedIn page as “self disciplined, organised and reliable. Proven experience of working successfully in a demanding and pressured environment. Adapts quickly whilst maintaining a calm and methodical approach to stressful situations.”

Mr Salmond said: “It is now vitally important an international investigation into the cause of the crash proceeds swiftly and effectively, and investigation teams are given full access to the crash site.

“The Scottish Government is in touch with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure any and all relevant expertise and experience in Scotland will be made available to the investigation now and in the coming weeks.”

Bodies recovered

Meanwhile, the bodies of passengers which have been strewn across the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 for nearly 48 hours are finally being recovered by Ukraine authorities.

Reporters at the scene say the bodies are now being carried out on stretchers after a makeshift cordon was set up this morning, following a deal between separatists and Kiev.

Until now, many of the dead passengers had been left uncovered, lying among the plane wreckage in an open field in the rebel-controlled area.

In a series of tweets, BBC reporter Fergal Keane, who is at the scene, said: “At crash site. Body parts strewn in field. Obscenity of war at its most graphic.

“Saddest to see was tiny shape under white sheet. Brown hair emerging. A toddler. By sunflower field.”

Ukraine has accused the rebels of already removing 38 of the bodies from the scene and taking them to the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

Experts from the UK will arrive in Kiev today to assist an international but Ukrainian-led investigation into how the flight was brought down.

The six investigators from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch will be based in the Ukraine capital until further details of the investigation are established.

The crash killed 298 people, including 10 Britons, nearly 200 Dutch passengers and 80 children.

Growing condemnation

The Foreign Office has also sent extra consular staff to Ukraine and the Metropolitan Police offered to send specialist officers to the country to assist with the identification and repatriation of the victims.

There is growing international condemnation of pro-Russian separatists for the incident, with the Britain and the United States both pointing the finger of blame at the militias.

Downing Street said it appeared “increasingly likely” that the catastrophe was the result of a surface-to-air missile fired from near Torez, in territory controlled by rebels seeking closer ties to Moscow.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier insisted that those responsible for bringing down the airliner must be “brought to account” amid deepening tensions with Moscow.

People from almost a dozen nations - young holidaymakers, students, scientists and some entire families - were on board the doomed flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Those living near the crash site between the villages of Rozsypne and Hrabove have described debris - parts of the stricken plane, luggage, personal belongings and even bodies - falling from the sky around them.

The victims

Among the British victims were Newcastle United fans John Alder, 63, and Liam Sweeney, 28, who were travelling to New Zealand to watch the football team’s pre-season tour.

Glenn Thomas, 49, a press officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and former BBC journalist, Loughborough University student Ben Pocock, reportedly 20, and Leeds University student Richard Mayne, 20, from Leicestershire, were also on board.

Another victim was reportedly helicopter rescue pilot and father-of-two Cameron Dalziel, 43, who is understood to be South African but travelling on a British passport.

A seventh British victim was named in reports as Stephen Anderson, 44, a former RAF search and rescue co-ordinator. The Daily Telegraph said he had moved to Penang in Malaysia to continue his career.

An eighth is believed to be Robert Ayley, a father-of-two living in New Zealand but originally from Guildford in Surrey who was reportedly travelling on a British passport.

An Irish mother-of-two, Edel Mahady, who emigrated to Australia from Dublin two decades ago, is also among the dead, according to the Irish Independent.

Around 100 of those killed were scientists, researchers and activists on their way to an international conference on Aids in Melbourne, Australia - including world-renowned researcher Joep Lange, described as “a giant” in Aids research. The International Aids Society said the conference is going ahead and will “honour their commitment”.

According to the airline, as well as the Britons there were 192 Dutch passengers, including a dual Dutch/US citizen, 44 Malaysians, including 15 crew, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian and one New Zealander on board. Three infants were also among the dead.

Details of those killed will be formally confirmed once next of kin have been notified, the airline said

Around 30 officials, the majority from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, arrived at the crash site yesterday, about 25 miles from the Russian border, and were allowed a cursory inspection while guarded by pro-Russia rebels.

The United Nations Security Council yesterday approved a statement calling for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the crash.

National security adviser Sir Kim Darroch chaired an emergency meeting with officials from across Whitehall, including police and representatives from the intelligence agencies, to assess the situation.

Mr Cameron described the catastrophe as an “absolutely appalling, shocking, horrific incident” that “cannot be allowed to stand”.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “While it is too early to be categoric about the cause of the disaster, the growing weight of evidence suggests that MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile and that this was fired from near Torez, in territory controlled by the separatists.

“This is backed up by claims made by separatist leaders on social media, and later removed, to have shot down an aircraft that they thought belonged to the Ukrainian military.

Separatist missile suspicion

“On this basis we assess that, without compelling information to the contrary, it is increasingly likely that MH17 was shot down by a separatist missile.”

US President Barack Obama said separatists had shot down Ukrainian planes in the region and claimed that those actions could not have been carried out without Russian support.

He said: “Set aside what’s happened with respect to the Malaysian airliner, a group of separatists cannot shoot down military transport planes or, they claim, shoot down fighter jets without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training and that’s coming from Russia.

“We don’t yet know exactly what happened with respect to Malaysia Airlines, although obviously we are beginning to draw some conclusions given the nature of the shot that was fired. There are only certain types of anti-aircraft missiles that can reach up 30,000ft and shoot down a passenger jet.”

Russian help

At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, US ambassador Samantha Power said Washington could not rule out the possibility that Russia offered help to separatists to launch the missile, believed to be an SA-11.

The Boeing 777-200 was flying on an established route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which had been declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Witnesses have described seeing it hit by something before crashing into territory held by rebels in eastern Ukraine.

During a phone call, Mr Cameron and Mr Obama agreed to “keep up the pressure” on Russia to engage in the Ukraine peace process and called for action to ensure the separatists grant investigators access to the crash site.