Malaysia Airlines flight 17

Book of condolence for victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 opens in Hong Kong

Australian consulate offers chance for Hongkongers, including city's 90,000 Australians, to pay their respects in Wan Chai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 2014, 1:14pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2014, 1:08am

Hongkongers, including the city's 90,000 Australian passport holders, have been invited to pay their respects to the victims of downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, after the Australian consulate in Wan Chai opened a public condolence book.

Thirty-seven Australian citizens and permanent residents died in the tragedy.

Only the Netherlands and Malaysia were harder hit in terms of loss of life.

"We were obviously very saddened by the news. It was a very tragic event, affecting a large number of people from a large number of countries" said Australian Consul General Paul Tighe.

"The main burden of it fell on the Netherlands and Malaysia, but there were 28 Australian citizens and nine permanent residents on the flight as well. That's significantly felt in the community," he said.

Tighe said the consulate wanted to offer the large number of Australians based in Hong Kong the opportunity to publicly record their sympathy.

"It's our second-largest population of Australians offshore anywhere in the world, so we want to extend this possibility to them if they choose to use it," Tighe said.

Mark Renzella, an Australian air force flight lieutenant, said he had great sympathy for the victims and families as he was affected by the Bali bombings several years ago. "I travel a lot, flying is a great passion of mine, and so a disaster like this on such a grand scale really hits home," he said.

Byron Thornley, an Australian living in Hong Kong, said he thought the book was a good idea.

"I think the reaction among the Australian community here was anger. Anger at [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in particular," he said.

The book will be open until Friday at the consulate on the 23rd floor of Harbour Centre.