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Relatives of MH air disaster victims feel unsupported
The federal foreign affairs ministry has responded to criticism this week from the brother of one of the six Belgian victims of the MH17 air disaster. A ministry spokesperson said it had done everything in its power to keep relatives informed, even during the long weekend of National Day.
“We had to keep on calling the crisis centre every day, even every hour, and we kept getting the same reply: We’ll be in touch, we’ll be in touch, and then nothing,” said Pierre Chardome, brother of hotel manager Benoit Chardome, 51, who died in the crash last week. “On top of the grief, that adds something terrible.”
“We were in contact all weekend with the families concerned,” spokesperson Hendrik Van de Velde told the VRT. “It is true that we were often able to give very little information, but that is not our fault.” The situation on the ground, in an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels, remains confused almost a week after the Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile.
“I understand the reaction of many family members,” said departing foreign minister Didier Reynders. “But we tried with the police and our crisis centre to stay in contact with the families. But people have to remember, it’s a very dangerous region there in eastern Ukraine, and it’s almost impossible for us to do anything.”
On Monday evening, scouts in Berchem in Antwerp held a wake (pictured) for Chardome, who had been involved with the scouting movement for many years before emigrating first to New Zealand and then to Bali. He recently returned to Antwerp to marry his Malaysian boyfriend, who was in Switzerland when Chardome was called back to Bali by his employer and was therefore not on board the fatal flight.
Meanwhile, the flight recorders of MH17 will be carried from the Ukrainian capital Kiev to London by a Belgian military Embraer aircraft, part of the pool of planes of the European Air Transport Command, departing defence minister Pieter De Crem said. The black boxes will be examined at RAF Farnborough by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport.