The founder of the Malaysian Club of Chicago says there already may be some local connections to the victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash Thursday.
A jet carrying 295 people crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, and a Ukrainian adviser said it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
Dr. Kim Tee, who's also a Bridgeview podiatrist, told NBC 5 that he spoke with a Chicago woman via social media who believes she has a close friend from Chicago on the flight and is awaiting confirmation.
The full passenger list has not been released.
Tee says there's an estimated 500 Malaysian families and 2,000 students in the Midwest. He says many may have traveled back home this month for the Malaysian New Year celebration called Eid, which signals the end of the fasting period of Ramadan.
Tee plans to hold a memorial in Chicago Wednesday for the victims on the plane.
Stanley Thai is an Aurora business owner whose employees frequently go to Kuala Lumpur on the same flight that went down Thursday. He said some of them lost loved ones when the Malaysian Airlines jet mysteriously disappeared in March.
"The second time is kinda scary. We haven't resolved the first one yet," Thai said.
Thursday's developments have also sent shockwaves through Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood. Community leader Yuriy Figel says Ukranians all over the world have been complaining to Russian embassies about the situation between the two countries.
"Today we saw what's a huge escalation of the conflict that now involves the entire world," Figel said.
Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims of MH17 crashed today. — Dr Kim Tee (@DrKimTee) July 17, 2014