The grieving family of a Blackpool man killed in the Ukraine air crash today told of their relief that the bodies of the victims are finally to be repatriated.
A train carrying the remains of 200 of those who perished in the disaster arrived in the city of Kharkiv, in the war-torn nation, yesterday.
They will be flown to Eindhoven, in Holland, the country where the flight’s fateful journey began and where many of the 298 victims came from.
Glenn Thomas, 49, who grew up in South Shore and started his career as a journalist on the Fylde coast, was among those on board, although it is not yet known whether his body is among those being transported.
His 22-year-old nephew Jordan Withers, from Freemantle Avenue, South Shore, said: “I’m just relieved the bodies are coming back, even though it’s not all of them.
“It’s going to be difficult now because we’ve put so much time and effort into trying to get Glenn’s body back rather than coming to terms with what’s happened.
“It’s going to be tough.”
Glenn had worked as a press officer with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, for the past 10 years and was travelling to a conference on AIDS in Australia when the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane was shot down by what are believed to be pro-Russian rebels.
His family had initially been critical of the airline’s approach to dealing with bereaved relatives, but say the situation is now being handled much better.
Jordan said: “They’ve been fantastic, I can’t fault them.
“They’ve made a donation in Glenn’s name to charity for us too.”
Jordan is now set to fly to Geneva with his mother (and Glenn’s twin sister) Tracey, father Mark and sister Brittany, today to visit Glenn’s long-term partner Claudio.
They will also meet Glenn’s colleagues at the WHO during their visit.
He added: “It’s going to be nice to spend time in a place that he did love.”
Tributes have continued to pour in from former colleagues of Glenn, who previously worked as a journalist for the BBC and began his career at The Citizen newspaper, in St Annes.
Angela Norris, who worked with Glenn during his time at The Citizen, said: “He was just starting out on his career and I was returning after having children.
“He was warm-hearted, funny and extremely likeable, a lovely man.
“A few years later, following a career change, I met Glenn again when he was working as a television reporter and he came to interview me for a project I was managing while working as a health promotion specialist in Lancaster.
“He was just the same, funny, unassuming and full of life.
“His death is a tragic waste of a life with so much to offer.”