Back in July, Australian couple Anthony Maslin and Marite 'Rin' Norris decided to spend a few extra days on holiday in the Netherlands while their three children Mo, 12, Evie, 10 and Otis, 8, accompanied by their granddad Nick Morris, returned to Perth for the start of the school term.
- From left to right: Mo, Evie and Otis
Tragically, the flight they took was Malaysia Airlines's MH17 - the passenger jet shot down above eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Last week the bodies of the Maslin children, three of 38 Australians to die in the disaster, finally returned to Australian soil.
Their parents, through Australia's department of foreign affairs (DFAT), released the below statement:
"We have brought home the bodies of our children, Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin (aged 12, 10 and 8) from the Netherlands, along with their grandfather, Nick Norris. For the last three months, they have been lying in a cold room on the other side of the world. Reconciling this fact with the knowledge that our children are here with us, spiritually, every moment is one of the most relentless and agonizing difficulties of our current life.
Our love and respect for our children remains unlimited and unconditional. It will never weaken – our children have been our entire world.
We have been two of the luckiest and happiest people on the planet. What remains for us now is to honour our children.
We honour Mo – his wisdom, his compassionate heart, and his total selflessness. Mo is peaceful and inclusive. Mo can accept people of all ages and backgrounds, make them feel special, and have them know they are with someone extraordinary.
We honour Evie and her boundless, unlimited love. She is empathetic, beautiful, funny, artistic and creative. Her gentle spirit, warmth and absolute kindness are recognized by all who know her.
We honour Otis and his complete and humbling fascination with all things outdoors, big and small, near and far. Oti provides all of us with carefree joy and laughter – perhaps the most powerful gift of all.
Please respect our children's memory, and stop this pointless war. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our children, for Mo, for Evie, for Otis.
Our children were taken from us by a war in which we, and our country had no part. It is impossible to understand the reason they were blown out of the sky.
Our lives are an ongoing hell. The pain we are enduring is unfathomable, and we grieve alongside families in the Ukraine, the Netherlands, Russia, Malaysia, Australia and elsewhere.
Please respect our children's memory, and stop this pointless war.
No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our children, for Mo, for Evie, for Otis.
No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for Grandad Nick.
No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for each other.
Thanks to DFAT and their international support team. Thanks also to our friends and our family for their support and love. Love, only love, it is all we have left."
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