For Cor Pan, a Dutch holidaymaker heading for Kuala Lumpur with his girlfriend Neeltje Tol, boarding a Malaysia Airlines flight was an irresistible opportunity for black humour.

As he made his way down the sky bridge from gate G03 at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, he paused to take a picture of the Boeing 777-200 that he and Ms Tol were about to board.

In a reference to the disappearance of flight MH370 in March, Mr Pan posted the picture on his Facebook page with the message: "If the plane disappears, this is what it looks like."

His friends responded by wishing him a good holiday and reminding him to send back lots of photos, but within hours their messages would turn to fear, and then despair.


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Soon after the plane crashed, messages on his Facebook page, which hours earlier had been so joyful, spoke only of grief.

One wrote: "There are too many things that go wrong ... am afraid it is indeed your plane. Rest in peace Cor and Neel.

"To the family, a lot of strength with this incredible loss."

Another added: "I don't [want] to believe this is true because this is too awful for words."