Shock and Sorrow over Deaths Continue
THUNDER BAY – INTERNATIONAL NEWS – Prayers and tributes across the world for the victims of the Malaysian airliner, which the evidence increasingly suggests was shot down by a surface to air missile while flying over in eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “I was shocked and saddened to learn that a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet en route from the Netherlands to Malaysia was shot down in eastern Ukraine, killing all on board. We understand from reports that a Canadian citizen is among the dead. On behalf of the Government of Canada, Laureen and I offer our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the victims of this outrageous act.
“While we do not yet know who is responsible for this attack, we continue to condemn Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine, which is at the root of the ongoing conflict in the region.
“Canada stands ready to provide whatever support it can to assist authorities in determining the cause of the crash.”
In Sydney, Australia’s Ukrainian community mourned the deaths of the 298 passengers on board MH17 with tears and songs. The victims came from 11 countries, and their deaths are felt across four continents.
In the Philippines, three nationals died on the jet as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Families in Quezon City are left searching for answers and clinging to memories. The brother of one of the passengers, MH7 Irene Pabellon- Gunawan, Tirso Pabellon stated, “Why did they have to include civilians? What we want is justice for this tragedy. If not for my sister, at least for the other passengers who also died. I know their families also feel the same way we do, the feeling of those who lost a loved one.”
Gunmen Preventing Access to Site
As a team of international observers from OSCE makes its way towards the crash site of the downed Malaysian airliner. They are flanked by separatist fighters, as they cross fields of sunflowers, where bodies and mangled wreckage are scattered over vast swathes of eastern Ukraine.
Flight MH7, the Boeing jet crashed in the middle of this conflict zone. Russia-backed separatists have been fighting government forces here for months.
It is believed flight MH17 fell out of the sky after being hit by a surface-to-air missile from inside the rebel held area. Both sides in the conflict are accusing each other of shooting down the civilian airliner.
Observers from the OSCE were hoping to assess the site to start to learn some of the answers.
Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says, “We have to work very quickly to see what’s going on in terms of safety and security of the perimeter”.
Emergency Meeting on United Nations Security Council
In New York at the United Nations Headquarters, the Security Council held an emergency meeting.
The apparent deliberate downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over eastern Ukraine highlights the need for an urgent resumption of a ceasefire and a serious effort to end the ongoing crisis, the United Nations political chief told an emergency meeting of the Security Council today.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, carrying 298 people, was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed on Thursday in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said that while the UN has at this point no independent verification of the circumstances regarding the tragic crash, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is alarmed at what seem to be “credible, numerous reports” that suggest that a sophisticated surface-to-air missile was used.
“The Secretary-General strongly condemns this apparently deliberate downing of a civilian aircraft,” said Mr. Feltman. “This horrifying incident serves as the starkest reminder of how dire the situation in eastern Ukraine has become – and how it affects countries and families well beyond Ukraine’s borders.”
A separate statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that “this horrifying incident must at the very least prompt a serious and sustained effort to end the fighting in Ukraine.” It also stressed the need for accountability for the tragedy.
Both the Secretary-General and the Security Council have called for an international investigation into the incident. The Council, in a press statement, also stressed the need for all parties to grant immediate access by investigators to the crash site.
Mr. Feltman said the UN is fully ready to cooperate, and it has been in touch with the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which has offered to Ukrainian officials its investigative capacity in order to put together an international team.
UN OFFICIALS ON BOARD MH7
Among the casualties of the crash was a staff member of the World Health Organization (WHO), Glenn Thomas, who was on his way to an international AIDS conference in Australia. The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a statement that a number of other passengers on the flight were also on their way to participate in the conference.