Tyne & Wear

MH17 families welcomed by rival Sunderland fans

(L - R) Kevin Ball, David Sweeney, Barry Sweeny, Gary Ferguson, a relative of John alder and Jimmy Montgomery
Image caption Liam Sweeney's grandfather David and father Barry were among those at the Stadium of Light

The relatives of two Newcastle United fans killed in the MH17 air disaster have been welcomed by thousands of rival supporters in Sunderland.

John Alder and Liam Sweeney, 28, were on their way to see Newcastle play in New Zealand, when their Malaysia Airlines flight came down on 17 July.

Their families visited the Stadium of Light to thank supporters for mounting a campaign to raise cash for charities supported by the two men.

The fund has raised more than £33,000.

Ahead of the team's game against Tottenham Hotspur, Mr Sweeney and Mr Alder's family members joined SAFC fan Gary Ferguson who set up the fund, former Black Cats captain Kevin Ball and Jimmy Montgomery on the pitch.

Image copyright Facebook and family handout
Image caption John Alder and Liam Sweeney were travelling to New Zealand to see Newcastle United play

Before the event, Mr Sweeney's grandfather David said: "When I saw what the Sunderland fans were doing it brought a tear.

"It was clear that they were supporting us 100% and from then I said I wanted to go to Sunderland to thank their fans in person.

"There will be 12 representatives from both families going down there and two or three of us will be presented to the crowd so we can thank them for what they have done."

Earlier this week, Dutch investigators said the damage to the plane suggests it was pierced by a large number of objects from outside the plane, with speculation that a missile was responsible.

All 298 people on the flight died.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites