The family of Malaysia Airlines crash victim Glenn Thomas today spoke of their relief at being told his body has finally been identified and can be brought home to Blackpool.
The former journalist, 49, was among 298 people killed when his flight crashed in Ukraine, apparently after being shot down over the war-torn country.
His twin sister, Tracey Withers, who lives in South Shore, said the discovery of the body means the family can finally get some closure after the tragedy – but they have still been left waiting to find out when he will be flown home.
She added: “This is the light at the end of the tunnel for us but we don’t know when it’s going to happen.
“We took the decision as a family to get the body home.
“We are not too sure when he will be arriving in England – he’s not going to be home tomorrow – and we don’t know how long we are going to have to wait.”
The added delays mean the family has not yet been able to start planning a funeral but Tracey said hopes her brother will get a good turnout once the arrangements are finally in place.
“I want as many people to come as they can,” she added. “I want it to be a celebration.”
On a Facebook page set up in Mr Thomas’ memory she wrote: “Through the tears there will be sadness... Through the sorrow there will be pain... But through your smile there will be happiness and together we will all smile once again.”
Others have posted their own messages on the page following the news Mr Thomas’ body is to be returned home. Vivian Barnes wrote: “The news we have all been waiting for. Glenn will be back home and get the send off he deserves.”
Jill Threlfall added: “So pleased that we can bring Glenn home to his family and friends.”
Others, including former colleagues, have used the page to pay their respects form around the world.
Ann Lucas Cronin wrote: “Hopefully this will bring you all some peace. I work at CDC TB in Atlanta, and was fond of Glenn. He had friends all over the world and we send our love and good memories.”
Mr Thomas began his career as a journalist on the Fylde coast before going on to work for Granada and the BBC, eventually becoming a press officer at the World Health Organisation in Geneva.
The former Highfield High School pupil had spent the last 10 years living in Switzerland but regularly returned to the Fylde coast to visit family and friends.
Arrangements are being made for Mr Thomas’ body to be flown back to the West Midlands, before continuing the journey to the Fylde coast.
It follows the identification of the body of Liam Sweeney, another British victim, earlier this month.