“My heart suddenly felt very hard and I had thought of the worst”

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GEORGE TOWN, July 18 – Pensioner Mohamed Salleh Samsuddin thought nothing when he received a text message requesting for copies of his and his wife’s MyKad on Wednesday from his daughter Nur Shazana. According to the 54-year old former civil servant, Nur Shazana had also suggested she, her three younger siblings and their parents, to visit the graves of their relatives in Penang on the second day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri. She also asked for a picture of one of her nephews which Mohamed Salleh obliged.

“But I never expected that could be the last time I would be communicating with Shuzana,” he told reporters when met at their home at Persiaran Mayang Pasir in Bayan Baru here. Nur Shazana, 31, was among 15 crew members of the ill-fated Malaysia Ailrines MH17 that crashed near the Ukraine-Russian border last night. Also on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur jetliner were 280 passengers. Mohamed Salleh and his wife Shahrom Ibrahim, 57, were a picture of grief when met their humble single-storey link house. According to Mohamed Salleh he suspected something amiss when he saw a CNN news report on the jetliner’s crash at about 10.30pm.

“My heart suddenly felt very hard and I had thought of the worst. “I know Nur Shazana is scheduled to travel overseas but I prayed hard she was not on board the plane,” he said trying very hard to hold back his tears. He tried to call MAS on his daughter’s whereabouts but to no avail. At about 11pm, his daughter’s employer called him saying that Nur Shazana could be on board the plane and that they were still trying to verify her status. Shortly later, Mohamed Salleh received another call from MAS confirming his worse fear. “My wife cried uncontrollably when I related the sad news. “We are still praying very hard she and the others are still alive,” he said while being comforted by neighbours and several Penang MAS staff who had arrived at the couple’s home earlier.