The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has sent about 30 monitors to the Malaysia Airlines wreckage site in eastern Ukraine, saying pro-Russian rebels controlling the region granted them safe passage.
World leaders have called for a full investigation into the incident, which killed all 298 people on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. U.S. officials say that the plane was brought down Thursday by a surface-to-air missile, but that it is not clear who fired it.
Speaking during an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said the missile system was likely operated from a “separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine.” She also said technical assistance from Russia cannot be ruled out.
Faulting Russia for supplying the separatists with high-powered arms, training and other assistance, Power called for Russia to help de-escalate the fighting between rebels and Ukrainian government forces. She told the U.N. Security Council, “This war can be ended. Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.”
Ukraine’s government has accused the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine of shooting the plane down, while the rebels blamed government forces.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, had said Ukraine would present evidence to the Council showing Russia’s military was involved in the crash.
Malaysia Airlines says the route where the incident occurred is commonly used for Europe-to-Asia flights.
Most of the passengers on the Boeing 777 aircraft were Dutch, and many were scientists heading to an international AIDS conference in Australia.
Most bodies located
Emergency workers say more than 180 bodies have been located. There are conflicting reports about whether the plane’s two black boxes, for audio and video, had been recovered.
The incident sent debris and body parts over a wide area of eastern Ukraine. Bodies fell in fields and inside and outside of village homes.
Malaysia Airlines said people from at least 10 countries were on board the plane, including 189 from the Netherlands, 44 Malaysians and 27 Australians. Another 12 were Indonesian, nine were British and about a dozen others were from Belgium, Germany, the Philippines, Canada or New Zealand. Four passengers’ nationalities have not been determined.
A top Malaysia Airlines official said the company will pay $5,000 per passenger to relatives to cover initial expenses.
U.S. intelligence officials said the plane likely was targeted deliberately by someone who may have mistaken it for a Ukrainian military transport plane.
Malaysia Airlines said it no longer will fly planes over Ukrainian airspace, instead routing its aircraft farther south over Turkey.
(Photo: The crash site of the downed Malaysian Airlines passenger site that Kremlin-backed terrorists had allegedly destroyed on July 17 with an advanced, radar-guided surface-to-air missile system that was delivered from Russia. Anastasia Vlasova/Kyiv Post)