BUNBURY mother Tanya Dryden hopes that her beachside tribute to the victims of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy will remind local families that life and loved ones are a precious gift.
Ms Dryden could not believe her eyes when she saw the first reports on TV that a plane had been gunned down over the Ukraine last night.
"I was absolutely shattered to think of all those people who were just going about their business and lost their lives," Ms Dryden told the Bunbury Mail.
"I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes and couldn't sleep for the rest of the night."
Ms Dryden said the death of a loved one was close to her heart because her 17-year-old son lost his dad last year.
"I know the heartache that those families have coming, it's not something you would wish on anyone."
The first thing she did this morning was buy a bouquet of flowers and balloons to place at the beach in a tribute to the lives lost and the families they have left behind.
A note on the bouquet read: "I leave these flowers and balloons in memory of the lives lost on MH17. May your souls roam free. RIP. Love Tanya and family."
"I sat there with my son and his girlfriend and we had a chat about how lucky we are to be here - I had a friend who travelled the exact same route a month ago, it could easily have been her," she said.
"I think it's so important to stop and realise how short and precious life is and also to instill empathy in our young people, there's so much hate and negativity out there, hopefully this might change some people's outlook."
The family has asked for the public not to remove the tribute.
Have you created a tribute to the victims of MH17? Email a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
BUNBURY and South West residents are in shock after learning 280 passengers and 15 crew members - including 27 Australians and at least one Perth man - have been killed after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down overnight.
Bunbury travel agent Cathie Rice checked her records as soon as she arrived at work this morning because she knew she had a client travelling in the area, but was relieved to discover the woman was booked on another airline.
Mrs Rice told the Bunbury Mail that she had flown the same route as the plane that was shot down countless times.
“I have travelled extensively with Malaysia Airlines, they have always been a lovely airline to fly with,” Mrs Rice said.
“I guess they will start looking at alternative routes which will make the trip longer.
“Other airlines would have been using the same flight path, it’s an unbelievable and tragic event.”
Mrs Rice said overseas tragedies had a significant impact on the local community.
“Every day we don’t know what’s around the corner – these events jolt the community but you can’t stop living out of fear, we have to go on.”
Bunbury Mail readers have expressed their sympathies for families who have lost loved ones on the Mail's Facebook page.
Former Bunbury resident Myra Oudendijk has many family members and friends in Holland, which suffered the biggest loss with 154 Dutch people killed.
"I'm really shocked - I woke up at about 5am this morning and saw the news on Facebook, I couldn't believe it," Ms Oudendijk said.
"It's a tragedy for all countries."
The flight from Amsterdam was en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The flight was then due to connect with a flight to Perth. A number of passengers were also due to catch a connecting flight Melbourne, where some were going to attend an International AIDS conference.
Ukrainian officials have claimed that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian separatists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine's government.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has convened a national security committee meeting and the government is in the process of getting access to the crash site, she said.
The death toll so far stands at:
41 unverified nationalities