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Woman loses relatives in 2 Malaysia air disasters

SYDNEY (AP) — In an almost incomprehensible twist of fate, an Australian woman who lost her brother in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 learned on Friday that her stepdaughter was on the plane shot down over Ukraine.

Kaylene Mann’s brother Rod Burrows and sister-in-law Mary Burrows were on board Flight 370 when it vanished in March. On Friday, Mann found out that her stepdaughter, Maree Rizk, was killed along with 297 others on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which U.S. intelligence authorities believe was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

Ukrainian coal miners search the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, Ukraine, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

“It’s just brought everyone, everything back,” said Greg Burrows, Mann’s brother. “It’s just … ripped our guts again.”

Burrows said his family was struggling to understand how they could be struck by such horrible luck on two separate occasions with the same airline.

“She just lost a brother and now a stepdaughter, so…” he said of his sister, his voice trailing off.

Rizk and her husband Albert, of Melbourne, were returning home from a four-week holiday in Europe, said Phil Lithgow, president of the Sunbury Football Club, with which the family was heavily involved. Albert, a real estate agent, was a member of the club’s committee, Maree was a volunteer in the canteen and their son, James, plays on the club’s team.

“They were very lovely people,” Lithgow said. “You wouldn’t hear a bad word about them – very generous with their time in the community, very community-minded, and just really very entertaining people to be with.”

The club members planned to wear black armbands and observe a minute of silence to honor the Rizks at their game on Saturday, Lithgow said.

Despite the twin tragedies, Burrows said he holds nothing against Malaysia Airlines.

“Nobody could predict they were going to get shot down,” he said. “That was out of their hands.”

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