Mallacoota and Canberra victims on flight MH17

Mary and Gerry Menke of Mallacoota.

Mary and Gerry Menke of Mallacoota.

A MALLACOOTA couple and a Canberra resident were amongst the Australians aboard the flight from Amsterdam that was shot down near the Ukraine and Russian border.

The Australians were part of the 298 onboard the  Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 travelling to Kuala Lumper before it crashed on Thursday.

According to the latest count based on the Malaysia Airlines passenger manifest, 38 people living in Australia were killed in the crash.

Mallacoota couple and prominent business-owners Mary and Gerry Menke were on the flight, and Fairfax Media understands the couple had gone on an overseas trip to celebrate a milestone birthday.

Mrs Menke and a daughter operated a hairdressing and beauty salon from a shopfront overlooking the sea.

Mr Menke was an abalone pioneer, thought to be the first in Victoria to establish his Mallacoota abalone pearl business in the late 1990s, having spent 30 years diving in waters off Mallacoota.

His company, MAPA Pearls, was acknowledged by the East Gippsland Business Awards last year, winning a judge's special award.

“Gerry and Mary were a wonderful couple and were delighted with the win, which cemented in their minds that what had begun as Gerry's hobby had turned into a unique and burgeoning business," executive officer of Business and Tourism East Gippsland Jeanette Seignior said.

"But it was far more than that.

“The Menkes were committed to giving back to the community and this year had committed to sponsoring business awards, which they felt had given them so much."

Mother-of-two Liliane Derden, 50, was the victim from Canberra.

Through a family friend, Ms Derden's family confirmed her identity and requested privacy as the wider family and friends were informed.

Ms Derden, a public servant, was from the north of Canberra, and worked for the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Five people from NSW are also believed to be among the victims.

Victor Oreshkin from Sydney was in his 30s and was returning from a five-week holiday in Europe.

Twenty-five-year-old Jack O'Brien, a fitness instructor who worked in Carlingford, Sydney was also on the flight.

Nun Sister Philomene Tiernan, who taught at Sydney's exclusive Kincoppal-Rose Bay School, was making her way home after a sabbatical in France.

Former teachers from the NSW Illawarra, Michael and Carol Clancy, are also believed to be among the dead.

- With The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times.

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