Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin died alongside their grandfather.
Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin died alongside their grandfather.

MH17 family’s battle to overcome unbearable loss

NEARLY five years ago, the world of the Maslin family was turned upside down when the parents of three innocent children faced an unimaginable loss.

Mo, Evie and Otis lost their lives when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

The children - aged 12, ten and eight - died alongside their grandfather, Nick Norris.

Thirty four other Australians on board also perished.

Mo, Otis and Evie were killed when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine after departing  from  Amsterdam.
Mo, Otis and Evie were killed when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine after departing from Amsterdam.

Now, for the first time, the children's parents are telling their story.

In tonight's episode of ABC's Australian Story, Anthony 'Maz' Maslin and his wife Marite 'Rin' Norris, who welcomed their daughter Violet two years after the tragedy, will reveal how they coped with their immeasurable grief.

Rin and Anthony Maslin are speaking about their grief for the first time.
Rin and Anthony Maslin are speaking about their grief for the first time.

"Our world as we knew it was absolutely over in that moment and we just started to say, 'when the world ended' and that's how we refer to it now," Rin Norris tells the ABC.

The couple were part of a strong and supportive community in Perth's Scarborough district and a group of friends surrounded them, bringing in meals and making sure that they weren't left alone.

"Friends came up with this idea of the web of love," friend Mia Martin tells Australian Story.

"Emails went out and right from the first few days it was around the clock monitoring."

The Maslins are telling the story in the hope that they can help others overcoming intense grief..

Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin died alongside their grandfather.
Evie, Mo and Otis Maslin died alongside their grandfather.

"It's about being proud of who we are and how we've handled things," Rin tells the ABC.

"Tragedy can be a source of strength. Tragedy can teach you things that you never wanted to learn."

"I don't feel anger towards the people who fired the rocket," says dad Maz. "I feel something much worse, I feel pity towards them."

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop introduces the program and reveals what went on behind the scenes to bring Russia to account at the UN.

The episode comes as the fifth anniversary of the crash that shook the to its core approaches.

And one key piece of evidence changed veryhing hang when it was uncovered by News Corp Australia's Charles Miranda in a world exclusive.

Debris and plane parts  from MH17. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Debris and plane parts from MH17. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) - comprising investigators from Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine - released a report in May 2018 stating that the missile system used to bring down the plane was owned by the Russian army.

News Corp Australia's team, one of the first Western media to come across the cockpit section of the doomed plane in the immediate aftermath, assisted in the probe not only through the photographic and reporting of the crash site - including flight charts and log books - but later securing video footage shot by the rebels themselves in the crucial minutes after the aircraft was brought down.

The Grabovo main crash site of flight MH17. Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
The Grabovo main crash site of flight MH17. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Staff were requested to provide more than 10 hours of evidence over two days.

The videotape, handed over to authorities a year after the tragedy and days after it was secured in July 2015, showed the moment rebels came across the still burning aircraft with commanders being seen and heard to order their men to hunt for the five pilots whom they believed had parachuted out of the aircraft.

The partially reconstructed plane at the  Gilze-Rijen air base.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
The partially reconstructed plane at the Gilze-Rijen air base. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

The 17-minute tape in fact records the moment they realise it was not a military aircraft but a commercial passenger plane as they come across "Chinese" civilians, believed to have been Malaysian flight crew and bags including one where they wonder aloud why the bag tag was marked as belonging to a passenger from "Australia".

Reporter Charles Miranda assisted Dutch police at Amsterdam airport to handle the full version of MH17 footage.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Reporter Charles Miranda assisted Dutch police at Amsterdam airport to handle the full version of MH17 footage. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Here is the full transcript of the distressing footage, which showed rebels ransacking the luggage of innocent people who had just been shot out of the sky

(Video Starts)

This is another plane, I think.

It's the fighter.

Commander: There, part of engine.

Other: Yes, I think.

Cmdr: Yes, it's the Sukhoi.

(Phone): Call the headquarters, the town, he will take you there.

Background: There's coins here.

Cmdr: There's five people who jumped.

The crash site in Rozsypne, Eastern Ukraine. Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
The crash site in Rozsypne, Eastern Ukraine. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Background: This is the Sukhoi lying around.

Background: You know how many bodies out there?

Cmdr: They say the Sukhoi (Fighter) brought down the civilian plane and ours brought down the fighter.

Background: But where is the Sukhoi?

There it is … it's the passenger plane.

Background: It's just fragments.

(Phone ringing)

Cmdr: Hello, yes, we're at the crash site. What, is there's another plane taken down there?

Understood, keep the perimeter, don't let the civilians in. OK then, we'll be there soon.

It's a civilian, it's some civilian.

Debris and objects found  by the News Corp team at the crash site.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Debris and objects found by the News Corp team at the crash site. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Background: But what direction did it come from … and fall?

Background: Look, aluminium.

Background: [Undistinguished]. Where is the Sukhoi then?

Background: It's confusing. No idea where the Sukhoi is, it's burning here and there and debris everywhere.

(Phone ringing)

Cmdr: Yes (KOT). Speak. What? No, don't fly in anywhere yet, wait for the orders. Remain at the headquarters.

Background: Civilians, move away, spread out! Let's go! … Move …

Cmdr: The civilian plane. Malaysian.

Cmdr: Yes, there are a lot of bodies, women … Anyway, have to go with Vinograbov. Here … you'll see here.

Background: Orange in colour, the black box.

Cmdr: (Still on the phone) OK, OK.

Background: Look for the black box everywhere.

Background: Don't film here.

Tanks carrying Russian flags seen on the road from Donetsk to the Russian border days after the MH17 crash. Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Tanks carrying Russian flags seen on the road from Donetsk to the Russian border days after the MH17 crash. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Cmdr: I'm not filming faces, I never film faces.

Cmdr: Guys, I don't like it either if it's leaked on the internet.

Cmdr: Are you filming here guys?

Cmdr: This is some military (expletive)

Cmdr: Don't film here guys.

Background: No, it's some sort of bag.

Cmdr: Got a knife?

Background: Military something ….

Cmdr: Commander, can someone come here? Open it, I will stand and watch or hold the camera and I will open it. Open it.

Background: There are documents; it will tell whose plane it is right away.

Cmdr: Disperse the civilians!

Cmdr: These are clothes.

Cmdr: Get rid of the civilians!

Then foreign minister Julkie Bishop arrives in Kiev, Ukraine in 2014.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Then foreign minister Julkie Bishop arrives in Kiev, Ukraine in 2014. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Background: Documents …

Background: Some stewardess, not Russian.

Cmdr: Get rid of all the civilians!

Cmdr: It's a Malaysian Airport [ID], Malaysian airlines. It expires on the 26th of July 2018.

(Phone Ringing)

Yes. Hello.

Background: "Chink" looking laying around there. Civilians … spread out!

Cmdr: Get rid of the civilians. Place the cars.

Cmdr: You see, they are foreigners, Malaysians.

Background: Who's opened a corridor for them to fly over here?

Cmdr: Even a **** parrot flew.

Cmdr: There are birds everywhere, here's one, here's another. Where from? There's another bird there!

Flowers in front of terminal 3 at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam from where MH17 flight departed. Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Flowers in front of terminal 3 at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam from where MH17 flight departed. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

(Phone ringing)

Cmdr: Hello, yes. They saw a pilot crawling at Rassipnaya. A pilot was seen crawling.

Cmdr: Get out there with your men …. Right now. And where's the parachute jumper?

Cmdr: The plane fell at Lesnaya Skazka [village name]. Understood. OK. The car has left to there. Let's go already. Understood.

Cmdr: Thank you girl. After the war we'll give you a medal.

Cmdr: It's a civilian.

Cmdr: ...F***. Passenger plane was f*****.

Background: Black box …

Cmdr: There's the black box, Look! Take it to our car. Look for the other one, there should be two.

Background: They are not Russian.

Cmdr: Show me the photo.

Cmdr: Yes.

Background: …. Muhamed Jatri …

Background: Take this.

Background: What is this?

Cmdr: Check it out.

The partially  reconstructed plane.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
The partially reconstructed plane. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Cmdr: There's a plastic bag, put it in there.

Background: Some sort of equipment, there's a charger for it.

Cmdr: We apparently found one black box. We need the second black box.

Cmdr: Show me. Just careful there. I'm filming here.

Cmdr: Just break the package, why go through the pain?

Cmdr: Put it somewhere there:

Cmdr: It's Malaysian, here's the stewardess' Identification Card

Cmdr: And what is this jacket? Some wind jacket?

Background: Look for more information out there.

Cmdr: Put it all there, the investigation is going deal with it.

Cmdr: (name suppressed), Australia Australia …

Cmdr: (to someone in the distance) Get rid of the Skoda. There's a Skoda sitting there.

Background: Open the bag. Some …. Some sort of equipment.

Cmdr: Binoculars, they are broken … useless. Documents …

Look in the bag … Documents …

Background: From the documents, what flight was it?

Cmdr: There, I have the ID.

(Phone ringing)

Yes (Ruslan?). I'm filming, taking pictures. I'll check, I see it. There's some birds here, parrots too, I'll take you to see the parrot.

Background: There's some journalists here, well, almost journalists.

Background: I can see.

Why is there a case full of birds?

Come here Oleg.

(Phone ringing)

Yes Ruslan, hi. I'm here, a plane was brought down. I'm at the crash site. I will be there. I will be there for sure.

Same time: (Another Phone) Yes Roman,

Come over here, our people are here too. OK (Roman), I'll call you later.

Background: There's an USB here, I want to see what's on it … Battery …

Cmdr: The other plane that fell down, they are after them, the pilots.

Background: The second one?

Fragments of the plane  at the Gilze-Rijen air base in The Netherlands.  Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Fragments of the plane at the Gilze-Rijen air base in The Netherlands. Picture: Ella Pellegrini

Cmdr: Yes, there's 2 planes taken down. We need the second.

Background: The second one is a civilian too?

Background: The fighter jet brought down this one, and our people brought down the fighter.

Background: They decided to do it this way, to look like we have brought down the plane.

Cmdr: I have the power. Oleg, I have the power if anything, take that into consideration.

Cmdr: Collect the USBs. The information is the most important.

Cmdr: Let the firefighters extinguish the flames.

(Phone ringing)

Yes Kalyian. I understood you, but we're already at the crash site. A passenger plane was brought down. They brought down the passenger plane and we brought down the fighter.

We're at the crash site.

Cmdr: The other team is working there, they are already taking over.

Guys, where's the village 49 (Grabovo)?

Background: We're not from around here, we don't know. There, ask them.

Who's local here?

Forty-nine? On the other side of the field.

Cmdr: The parachute jumpers are there.

Background: But there are two planes, from my understanding.

Background: And what's the other one? A Sukoi?

Cmdr: A Sukhoi.

The Sukhoi brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi.

Is it far from here? Where did it fall?

Looks like … Where's the smoke coming from?

Somewhere else is burning, the 49 village.

I mean … the two pilots landed on parachutes.

(Phone ringing)

Cmdr: Yes, speak. I'm here, I'm in Grabovo. Right at the place. I'm not at the bird site, I'm in the field. I didn't get there yet.

Cmdr: Five parachutes jumped off this plane. Five people jumped off this plane on the bird site. How to get there?

OK we'll go there soon. We'll see. OK then.

Cmdr: Yes, I see them, Chinese … (video ends)

 

Australian Story airs tonight on the ABC at 8pm (AEST)

Off-duty coal miners helped to comb the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines plane. Picture:  Ella Pellegrini
Off-duty coal miners helped to comb the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines plane. Picture: Ella Pellegrini