An 11 year-old passenger on board the doomed MH17 flight that was shot down over the Ukraine last week was behaving strangely the day before he boarded the plane, clinging to his mother and asking about death and what happens when people die.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the eerie story of Miguel Panduwinata of Amsterdam who died aboard the Malaysian airliner when it was shot out of the sky by a Russian-made Buk missile on July 17. All 298 persons on board were killed.
Miguel’s mother, Samira Calehr, says that her son was strangely agitated for days before the trip which was to take him to visit her mother in Bali. Although he was well-traveled and should have been excited about the trip, she found that he was suddenly bombarding her with questions about death, his soul, God and what happens when people die.
For instance, a day before the trip, while playing soccer, Miguel asked, “How would you choose to die? What would happen to my body if I was buried? Would I not feel anything because our souls go back to God?”
The night before the trip, he came up to her bedroom in their Amsterdam townhouse and asked, “Mama, may I hug you?”
He then refused to let go of her. She stretched out beside him and held him all night long.
“He’s just going to miss me,” Samira told herself.
The next morning, she took Miguel and his 19 year old brother, Shaka, to the airport to board Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Another son, 16 year old Mika, could not get a seat on the plane and was scheduled to make the same trip the next day.
As the boys were walking toward the passport counter, Miguel suddenly spun around and threw his arms around his mother.
“What will happen if the airplane crashes?” he asked.
“Don’t say that,” she told the boy. “Everything will be OK.”
Miguel kept turning around and looking at her as he walked away, his big brown eyes full of sorrow.
The flight took off at 12:15 p.m. and embarked on what should have been a flight of 11 hours, 45 minutes. But this flight would last only two hours.
At some point over the Eastern Ukraine, a Buk missile, which is designed to detonate just before striking its target, exploded beneath the Boeing 777 and sent a deadly bath of shrapnel through the plane, tearing it apart.
Samira was shopping when she got the call from a friend. “Where are you?” her friend asked. “The plane crashed!”
She made it home just in time to faint. The next time her eyes opened, she found herself in a surreal world where two of her sons were no longer there. She couldn’t help but recall Miguel’s strange behavior the days before the crash and how he seemed to sense that his end was near.
Her only consolation, which came in the numbing days after the crash, is that neither of her boys suffered. Forensic experts say if the blast didn’t kill the passengers, the sudden loss of cabin pressure and freezing temperatures at 33,000 feet would have caused instant death.
“It’s very unlikely the passengers would have suffered, there would have been no time to worry,” said University of Canberra adjunct professor David Royds, an expert in explosion investigations.
Still, Samira can’t help but wonder about Miguel, and what might have happened if she had also sensed the impending tragedy and could have done something to stop it.
“I should have listened to him,” she says. “I should have listened to him.”
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