Mary and Gerry Menke.The family of the first Australian victims of the MH17 tragedy to be publicly identified say they look forward to Mary and Gerry Menke coming home.
The couple’s children have issued a short statement about their parents, who were prominent business owners in Mallacoota in Victoria.
“We are relieved that Mary and Gerry Menke have been identified and wish to thank all those who have helped in this process,” the statement reads.
“We look forward to receiving Mary and Gerry again soon in the place and the community they loved so much and which loved them. Once again we extend our deepest condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.”
When asked about the news on Friday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted to reassure all of the Australian families who lost loved ones on MH17 that “everything is being done to ensure that remains are being treated with respect, people are being identified as quickly as possible”.
Mr Abbott has recently returned from a trip to the Netherlands to thank Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for his country’s work in receiving and identifying the victims of the disaster.
So far, 127 victims of the disaster have been identified from the Netherlands, Malaysia, New Zealand, Canada, Belgium and Germany.
It is understood the Menkes are the first Australians to be identified. However, the Australian government is not confirming the identification of any passengers unless families wish to disclose it.
The government is offering to fly families to the Netherlands once bodies have been identified, to accompany them back to Australia. Earlier this week, Mr Abbott said that for legal purposes, Australia bodies will go from the Netherlands to Melbourne, where final paper work will be done.
Mr Abbott has previously warned that identifying the victims could take some time, noting that after the Bali Bombings, some people were not identified for months.
With Fergus Hunter
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