Hong Kong-born chef and wife died aboard Flight MH17 after change of route
Fan Shun-po, a cook working in the Netherlands, was travelling with his Malaysian wife, Jenny Loh, according to a Dutch newspaper
A change to their usual travel routine proved fatal for a celebrated Hong Kong-born chef and his Malaysian wife.
Each year Fan Shun-po and Jenny Fan, both in their 50s and who owned a Chinese restaurant in Rotterdam, would fly from Amsterdam to Hong Kong and then Kuala Lumpur to visit their respective hometowns.
But this time, because they had to take Jenny's elderly mother home to Penang after she paid them a visit, they opted to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur aboard the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
The couple, who perished with 296 others aboard the Boeing 777 after it was shot down over Ukraine, are survived by their son Kevin, who is in his early 20s and also lives in Rotterdam.
Christy Liu, who was in the same Buddhist group as the couple in the Dutch port city, said people who knew them were concerned about Kevin in the wake of the tragedy.
"It is devastating to him. He is very sad, not answering phone calls and only willing to send text messages," Liu said.
"He just texted us back with messages [yesterday] afternoon. He was finding it impossible [on Thursday] to face the matter."
Watch: Families await news of downed flight MH17
She said friends of the Fans would try to help Kevin arrange his parents' funeral. Many of Kevin's friends have posted on his Facebook page the word sterkte - Dutch for strength.
Fan and his wife migrated to the Netherlands in 1978 and made a name for themselves when their restaurant in downtown Rotterdam, Asian Glories, won a recommendation from the Michelin Guide.
Tributes poured in on the restaurant's Facebook page, where a poster named Gaea Gail recalled nights when "after closing hours [as] we sat and talked about life, Jenny was as lively as she always was and Mr Fan his smiling peaceful self, listening to his wife as she talked the night away".
The pair were also respected for their philanthropy. "Whenever there were natural disasters, the Fans never hesitated to organise charity dinners to help raise funds," Liu said.
In the wake of the Fukushima tsunami in March 2011, the pair staged a dinner that raised €27,500 (HK$288,000) for victims.
Hong Kong's Immigration Department said it was checking if more Hongkongers were on board Flight MH17.