London, United Kingdom | – Royal Dutch Shell has confirmed that some of its workers were among the 298 people on board a Malaysian Airlines flight that crashed in Ukraine on Thursday.
Although the multinational oil supermajor did not say how many of its employees were on board the ill-fated flight MH17, it is believed to have been three employees from the Malaysian office.
An employee of ExxonMobil was also reportedly on board, though the US oil giant was not immediately available to confirm.
The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed between Krasni Luch in the Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the Donetsk region.
The area in which it came down is currently under the control of pro-Russian separatists following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Shell’s statement on Friday morning read: “After a review of traveller records and airline manifests, we now have confirmation from authorities and family members that Shell staff were aboard Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which went down in Ukraine while travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
“However, we are still working on a definitive list of employees and are unable to provide further information at this point in time.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of our colleagues and friends, and we mourn their loss and the loss of the lives of everyone onboard flight MH17.
“Shell is providing support to the families of our employees to help them through this time of grief.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of all the passengers and crew on board flight MH17.”
Malaysian news website Malaysian Insider reported that 54-year-old ExxonMobil employee Karamjit Singh was also among those presumed dead.
Singh, who had just finished a shift in Nigeria where he worked for subsidiary Esso Petroleum, was on his way home to Kuala Lumpur, the website reported, citing an internal memo at ExxonMobil.
A father of two, Singh had worked for ExxonMobil for 29 year, according to the website.
Flight MH17 was carrying 283 passengers and 15 Malaysian crew members. Of the passengers, there were at least 154 from the Netherlands, 28 from Malaysia (including two infants), 27 from Australia, 12 from Indonesia (including one infant), nine from the UK, four each from Germany and Belgium, three from the Philippines, one from Canada and 41 so far from unverified citizenship.
Both sides in the current stand-off between Ukraine and Russia-backed Eastern Ukraine separatists have pointed the finger of blame at each other.
While the cause of the crash remains unknown, reports suggest it may have been shot down from a surface-to-air missile.
The plane, built in 1997, had a clean safety record and had its last safety check on 11 July.
It is the exact same model of aircraft as flight MH370, also a Malaysian Airlines plane, which disappeared in March while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. That plane has yet to be located.