Americans rattled by the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 — believed to have killed 298 people, most of them Dutch — are paying their respects at the Dutch Embassy in D.C., where flowers mark a growing memorial and where mourners will hold a candlelight vigil Friday evening.
"I can only imagine the pain and grief," said Dutch native Arno Zegerman, who was at the embassy Friday morning. "It's horrible news."
A sign of sympathy and flowers of nearly every color mark the outside of the embassy, and the flag is flying at half-staff.
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Mourners will gather at the embassy at 6 p.m. Friday for a candlelight vigil and walk to the Embassy of Malaysia. Participants are being asked to bring candles and wear black clothing if possible.
The ambassador will also host a private moment of silence for Dutch Embassy staff.
The embassy staff is monitoring developments from afar. It said in a statement that Dutch Ambassador Rudolf Bekink joins government officials to demand an independent and transparent investigation into what happened in the skies over Ukraine on Thursday.
"The Netherlands is deeply shocked by the terrible air disaster involving flight MH17. We mourn all those who were on board, whatever their nationality," the statement read in part. "Our thoughts are with their loved ones, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The Dutch government is doing all it can to gain clarity for the victims’ families as swiftly as possible."
Bekink also offered a message of condolences on wrote on Twitter. "My heart goes out to the passengers of MH17, their family and friends," he wrote.
Next week, the embassy will welcome the public into its lobby to offer their condolences by signing a registry. Those who wish to leave messages can do so between 10 a.m. and noon, and between 2 and 4 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.