Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 shows cruelty — and mercy — of fate

The circumstances surrounding a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down in Ukraine on Thursday not only demonstrate the risk of flying over war-torn regions, but also show how fate can determine the victims and survivors of major disasters.

One man posted photo of plane before takeoff, others narrowly missed being on flight

There is disbelief and anguish in Malaysia over the crash of MH17, the second aviation disaster to hit the country this year 2:06

The circumstances surrounding a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet shot down in Ukraine on Thursday not only demonstrate the risk of flying over war-torn regions, but also show how fate can determine the victims and survivors of major disasters.

In some cases, prospective passengers for MH17, which left Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur, narrowly missed being on board for the most mundane of reasons.

In other instances, fate was not so kind.

Sanjid Singh, a flight steward who wouldn't otherwise have been on the ill-fated journey, ended up on MH17 after swapping a shift with a colleague, the Malaysian Insider reported.

In an even stranger twist of fate, Singh's wife, also a member of Malaysia Airlines flight staff, had switched out of working on MH370 on March 8, the flight the airline lost in mysterious circumstances.

"Sanjid's wife was meant to fly on MH370 but swapped with another colleague at the last minute," Sanjid's father, Jijar Singh, told the Malaysian Insider.

Jijar Singh told the publication he and his wife were eagerly awaiting a chance to meet up with their son after his flight.

"He was supposed to come here at noon after he returns from Amsterdam this morning. His mother had prepared all his favourite dishes," he said.

A double loss

Sad links to the doomed MH370 also haunt an Australian family.

Among that country's 28 victims on MH17 were two who had lost close relatives when MH370 vanished from radar screens in March. It has yet to be found.

The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported that Kaylene Mann of Queensland lost her brother and sister-in-law, Rod and Mary Burrows, when MH370 disappeared.

The crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine on July 17 was a reminder of the role fate can play in determining the victims and survivors of major disasters. (Sutanta Aditya/AFP/Getty Images)
"It's just ripped our guts again," Mann's brother, Greg Burrows, told reporters, the Guardian said.Now, she knows her stepdaughter Maree Rizk, and Rizk's husband, Albert, were on MH17.

In other instances, fate dealt a kinder hand.

A Scottish couple meant to be on board MH17 weren't able to get on for what would otherwise have been merely a travel annoyance: a lack of seats on the plane.

In the end, it saved their lives, leaving Barry and Izzy Sim with "a sick feeling" after hearing what happened with the original flight, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Not enough seats

The couple had been told there weren't enough seats for them and their young child on MH17, so they were put on a KLM flight leaving Amsterdam later Thursday.

When asked about his response to the downed flight, Barry Sim said, “You get this sick feeling in the pit of your stomach… We started getting butterflies. Your heartbeat starts going," the Telegraph reported.

For his wife, there was a feeling some other force must have been at work.

“There must have been someone watching over us and saying, ‘You must not get on that flight,'" Izzy Sim told The Telegraph.

Others found themselves similarly thankful that their booking on MH17 didn't turn into a guaranteed seat on the flight.

New Zealand sailor Mike Bullot posted to his Facebook page about how he and 20 to 30 other people had been waiting at the gate at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after being told they couldn't board MH17, the 3News website reported.

"Too many what-ifs to think about right now," Bullot wrote, according to the web site.

"Wondering how many of those behind me in line were pushed back a day."

'A bit surreal'

An Australian couple also just missed being on MH17 — even though they had been booked on it twice, and ended up changing their plans both times, the Age, an Australian newspaper out of Melbourne, reported.

Simone La Posta and her husband, Juan Jovel, made it back home to Adelaide early Friday after their honeymoon.

I’m pretty happy to be standing here talking to you right now.- Simone La Posta

“I’m pretty happy to be standing here talking to you right now. We flew into KL via Amsterdam on the MH17 flight the day before," she told ABC Radio in Adelaide, according to the Age.

"It’s a bit surreal to think that one day later and I wouldn’t be standing here talking with you right now.

"We originally had our itinerary to be on that flight but then we changed it thinking we were going to be too jet-lagged for work on Monday," she told the radio station.

'Rest in peace'

Sometimes, however, fate just seems cruel.

Cor Pan, a Dutchman, was eagerly anticipating his MH17 flight to Kuala Lumpur and the beginning of a Malaysian beach holiday.

On Facebook, he posted a picture of the Boeing 777 that would be carrying the MH17 passengers just before the flight left, the Guardian reported, noting an apparent reference to MH370 he put with the photo: "If it should disappear, this is what it looks like."

The Guardian said Pan was accompanied on the trip by his girlfriend, the owner of a flower shop in a fishing town north of Amsterdam.

On the front of the shop on Friday, a note had been taped, the Guardian reported.

"Dear Cor and Neeltje," the note read. "This is unwanted, unbelievable and unfair. Rest in peace. We will never forget you."

Kaylene Mann lost her brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when it vanished in March. On Friday, she learned her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. (ABC)