Zimbabwe-born helicopter pilot also perished in missing MH17 plane


Two days after the explosion on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, in which Zimbabwean born ex-South African helicopter rescue pilot Cameron Dalziel and 297 others died, the airline has still not made contact with his bereft wife, Reine.

Dalziel's sister Candice has provided Reine's details to airline officials no fewer than three times.

Compounding the omission, the airline has refused to confirm to Dalziel's parents, Meryll and Doug that their son's name was on the passenger manifest.

When Weekend Argus contacted the media hotline number on the Malaysian Airlines website, a spokesman said: "He is not the only person who died. It is taking time to verify details of the passengers. How do you know his family has called us with this information?"

On the airline's website, a breakdown of the nationalities of the victims on flight MH17 lists: "United Kingdom — 10, including one dual UK/S Africa citizen."

Dalziel travelled on a British passport, but was raised in Durban. He was born in Zimbabwe. He had recently settled in Malaysia with his wife and two sons, Sheldon (14) and Cruz (4).

Dalziel was returning home from Amsterdam after completing a fixed-wing airplane training course when a surface-to-air missile fired close to Ukraine's Russian border, reportedly brought down the plane.

Candice and her remaining brother, Campbell, were yesterday comforting their parents at their Umhlanga Rocks home.

Candice said her sister-in-law was being supported by Dalziel's colleagues from the Canadian Helicopter Corporation.
She said Malaysian Airlines had provided no answers.

"We are desperate for the truth. The only way we can explain the loss of Cameron to his 14-year-old son, Sheldon, who worshipped him, is by getting honest answers."

Clayson Monyela, Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman, said: "Because the victim was travelling on a British passport, our hands are tied. International diplomatic protocol dictates that Britain must lead when it comes to seeking information on behalf of the family."

Candice heard the news while she was in Dubai on business, and immediately began making inquiries.

Meanwhile, Associated Press yesterday said rebels had recovered the black boxes from downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and would hand them over to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Rebels leader Alexander Borodai also said the bodies recovered from the crash site in eastern Ukraine would remain in refrigerated train cars at a station in the rebel-held town of Torez, 15 kilometres away, until the arrival of an international aviation delegation.

Ukraine and the separatists accuse each other of firing a surface-to-air missile Thursday at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur some 10,000 metres above the battlefields of eastern Ukraine.

Both deny shooting down the plane. All those onboard the flight — 283 passengers and 15 crew — were killed.

It was immediately not clear yesterday if the rebels and the Ukrainian government were working together or were at odds with each other on recovering the bodies — and from their comments, many of officials didn't appear to know either.

A Ukrainian emergency spokeswoman said the armed rebels had forced emergency workers to hand over all 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and did not tell them where the bodies were going.

Ukrainian government officials, meanwhile, prepared a disaster crisis centre in the government-held city of Kharkiv, expecting to receive the bodies, but those hopes appeared delayed or even dashed yesterday.

"The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive," Borodai said, speaking in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

Borodai said he was expecting a team of 12 Malaysian experts and that he was disappointed at how long they had taken to arrive.

He insisted that rebels had not interfered with the crash investigation, despite reports to the contrary by international monitors and journalists at the crash site.

The rapid-fire developments yesterday morning came after a wave of international outrage over how the bodies of plane crash victims were being handled and amid fears that the armed rebels who control the territory where the plane came down could be tampering with the evidence.

Ukraine says Russia has been sending sophisticated arms to the rebels, a charge that Moscow denies. — IOL/AP

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