Malaysia Airlines Crash: Actress, Ex-BBC Journalist Among Victims

12:05 PM PST 07/21/2014 by Hilary Lewis
AP Images

Other victims include an award-winning Australian author, an aspiring novelist and a former writer turned AIDS activist.

More information emerged over the weekend about the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash over Ukraine. The 298 passengers who lost their lives when their plane was suddenly shot down over the war-torn region included an actress, a former BBC journalist and multiple writers.

Malaysian actress Shubashini Jeyaratnam, who went by her stage name Shuba Jaya, was returning home to Kuala Lumpur from the Netherlands, where she and her Dutch husband had introduced their baby daughter to his parents, according to the The New York Times. Her husband and child were on the flight with her. She had appeared on TV, on stage and in movies but also ran a branding and promotions company and wanted to commit to acting full-time, according to USA Today. “She was never in it for the fame, but always had raw passion for acting and channeled it well onstage,” Khairil M. Bahar, a director who worked with her on several films, told the Times. “She was an admirable person and had a lot of plans for her career. It is extremely difficult to speak of her in the past tense now.”

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Former BBC journalist Glenn Thomas, who most recently worked as a media relations coordinator for the World Health Organization, was also a passenger on the plane and died in the crash, according to reports. Like many on the flight, Thomas was traveling to an AIDS conference in Australia, the BBC reported. The director of the BBC’s World Service Group said in a staff email that Thomas was a “calm, kind and thoroughly professional individual  — he will be missed. Our thoughts are with his friends and family at this terrible time.” Meanwhile, BBC World News controller Richard Porter said of Thomas, "He was always passionate about telling the stories that mattered and could always turn his hand to whatever was asked — but most importantly he was a genuinely nice man."

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Australian novelist Liam Davison was also among the victims of Flight MH17. His wife, Frankie, a literature teacher, who was also on the flight, according to the Times. Davison’s second novel, Soundings, won the National Book Council Banjo Award for Fiction in 1993. His work was also shortlisted for several prestigious literary prizes including The Age Book of the Year Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, according to his publisher.

Davison was one of several writers killed in the crash, including Dutchman Laurens van de Graff, an aspiring novelist, who was on his way to Indonesia with his girlfriend for summer vacation, the Times reported. The University of Amsterdam alum wrote for the satirical student literary magazine, criticizing celebrated Dutch writers. “We still don’t understand how such a nice guy could be such a merciless writer,” friend and literary magazine editor Jim Glerum said.

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AIDS activist Pim de Kuijer, killed in the crash, was a former writer for a European multilingual magazine in Paris, his friend and former editor Nabeelah Shabbir told The Guardian. Shabbir added that de Kuijer had written a memoir about the different countries he’d been to, including Malaysia, where he was set to return after the AIDS conference. He also famously came out at a stand-up comedy show, The Guardian and The New York Times reported.

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