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MH17 disaster: Melbourne couple among the dead

Date

Patrick Hatch, Nick Toscano, Beau Donelly

Sunbury locals outside the Raine and Horne office where Albert Rizk was director.

Sunbury locals outside the Raine and Horne office where Albert Rizk was director. Photo: Penny Stephens

A Melbourne couple have been confirmed as two of 27 Australians killed when flight MH17 went down over Ukraine.

Albert and Maree Rizk are believed to have been returning from a month-long holiday in Europe. 

Maree Rizk.

Maree Rizk. Photo: Facebook

The couple have two children and have lived in the Sunbury area for more than 20 years, and were believed to be involved with a number of local sporting clubs.

One of Mr Rizk’s colleagues confirmed the couple’s family had been contacted by officials to notify them of their deaths. 

Sunbury Football Club president Phil Lithgow told Fairfax Media that the Rizks were major figures in the club community, which was shaken by their deaths. 

“They were fantastic people, Albert was a committee member, sponsor of the club, Maree was a canteen helper, their son plays in our senior football team,” he said. 

“They were very generous with their time in the community.”

Mr Lithgow said the Rizks, who were both in their early 50s, were travelling with friends in Europe and were due back in Australia today.

“They were with friends and their friends got on an earlier flight,” he said.  

Hume City councillor Jack Ogilvie, based in Sunbury, said the community was in shock. 

"They were supposed to come back today ... they didn't make it," Cr Ogilvie said.

"We are all shaking our head in shock.

"They were fantastic people ... Albert was one of the guys who was always the life of the party."

Dozens of relatives, friends and teammates were supporting the couple's children - James and Vanessa - at their family home on Friday following news of the deaths.

"He's holding up remarkably well, but I don't think it's hit him ... and Vanessa it hasn't hit at all," Sunbury Lions senior coach Rick Horwood said.

"The circumstances of what happened are just so unusual. How do you deal with it?"

Mr Horwood said a minute's silence would be held before Saturday's match between Sunbury and Redan in honour of the Rizks, who would be "sadly missed".

Mourners have left several bouquets and heart-felt cards resting against the shopfront of Sunbury's Raine & Horne office, where Mr Rizk was a director.

"I purchased my house from you ... you changed our lives forever," one said. "May you rest in peace."

"This wonderful town will miss your great services deeply. You were a true community and family man."

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