A British university student is feared to have been among the 298 people aboard the Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight when it crashed in eastern Ukraine.
Tributes have been paid to Richard Mayne, 20, who is believed to have been on board the Boeing 777-200 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was apparently shot down over the war-torn country yesterday.
Nine Britons are known to have died in the crash, including two Newcastle United fans, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, and World Health Organisation media officer Glenn Thomas.
Mr Mayne, from Leicester, was studying maths and finance at Leeds University and had recently returned from a charity fund-raising trip to Mount Everest in March.
His former school in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, described him as an “extremely pleasant and thoughtful young man” who had a “great thirst for life”.
John Wood, headmaster at The Dixie Grammar School, said: “All of us in The Dixie Grammar School community are devastated to hear the tragic news of Richard Mayne’s death on the Malaysian Airlines flight.
“Richard was a great all rounder, good academically and also a keen sportsman.
“It is indicative of his high standing at school that Richard was our deputy head boy, having been appointed following a rigorous selection process which included a vote by all students and staff.
“But more importantly than this, Richard was an extremely pleasant and thoughtful young man who gave his time generously for everyone.”
Mr Wood said he saw his former pupil a month ago when they discussed Mr Mayne’s trip to Mount Everest base camp in March. The student raised more than £1,000 for the Kidasha charity which supports disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Nepal, according to his Justgiving page.
Mr Wood added: “Richard had a great thirst for life and he wanted to make the world a better place. It is tragic that his life has been cut short, especially under these circumstances - he had such a great future ahead of him.
“The thoughts of all of us at The Dixie Grammar School are with Richard’s family and friends at this most difficult time. He will be sorely missed.”
Tributes flooded on to Twitter, with the University of Leeds Rugby Union club writing: “Hearts go out to the friends and family of Richard Mayne, a popular club man taken from us too soon. We pay tribute to an honest and kind man.
“Richard Mayne was a bloody great bloke and I can’t imagine how his family and close friends must be feeling. It’s utterly horrendous news.”
Leeds University’s Raise and Give (RAG) society wrote: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of RAG member Richard Mayne on board MH17. Thoughts and sympathy are with his family and friends.”
Michael Kimberlin wrote: “RIP Richard Mayne, a tragic loss for your friends and family. One of the nicest blokes you could ever meet.”
Charles Platts wrote: “The tributes to Richard Mayne are heart-warming. A lad who is unanimously well-respected and loved.”