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Malaysia Airlines apologized for a year-end promotion tweet that draw anger after it inadvertently drew parallels with the still-missing MH370 flight.

“Want to go somewhere but don’t know where?” read the post on Twitter that was meant to promote special deals by Malaysia Airlines, prompting scorn from online users.

Malaysia Airlines said the tweet “was intended to inspire travelers during this holiday period to explore destinations and deals” it was offering.

“Unfortunately, it unintentionally caused offence to some, and we have since removed the tweet,” it said in a brief statement.


It is the second time Malaysia Airlines, which has been devastated by the loss of 537 people in two air tragedies this year, has run into criticism over its advertising recently.

In September, the airlines said it had changed the name of a ticket-sale promotion that invoked an “inappropriate” death reference by asking travelers which places were on their “Bucket List”.

Bookings have plummeted due to the two disasters.

MH370 vanished in March with 239 passengers and crew aboard when it inexplicably diverting from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing course. It is believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean, but no trace has been found.

MH17 went down in July – believed hit by a surface-to-air missile – in rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.

Malaysia Airlines said on November 28 its Q3 loss widened 54% year-on-year in the wake of the disasters that have sent its business into a tailspin and prompted a government rescue.

New clashes in eastern Ukraine have forced the international forensics team to halt operations in part of the vast crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Observers had to withdraw from one village when they heard artillery fire although work is still continuing across much of the area.

MH17 went down on July 17 with the loss of all 298 passengers and crew.

The US and Ukraine say pro-Russian rebels probably shot down the jet with a missile but rebels deny the claim.

Alexander Hug, the deputy chief monitor with the Ukraine mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told AFP a visit to the village of Petropavlivka had been agreed with the rebels and Ukrainian forces.

New clashes in eastern Ukraine have forced the international forensics team to halt operations in part of the vast crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

New clashes in eastern Ukraine have forced the international forensics team to halt operations in part of the vast crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

About 70 Dutch and Australian experts are scouring a site of some 20 sq km.

A spokesman for the Dutch team said it was still focusing on searching for human remains, although security is also a key issue.

Neither the rebels nor Ukrainian forces are in full control of the site.

The Dutch team has flown in from the Netherlands two dogs trained to search for human remains and another two specialist dogs are on their way from Belgium.

The Australian team also has specialist equipment – a mini-drone fitted with a camera – but it has not yet been given permission by the rebels to fly it.

The US and Ukraine say pro-Russian rebels probably shot down the plane with a missile supplied from Russia.

The rebels say it could have been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.

Most of those who died were Dutch nationals.

More than 220 coffins have now been sent back to the Netherlands.

Separately, a senior adviser to the rebels confirmed that extrajudicial killings had been carried out in eastern Ukraine “to prevent chaos”.

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Dutch and Australian forensic experts have found human remains at the site of the flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine.

They made their discovery on their first full day of searching at the site, an area of some 13.5 sq miles inside the conflict zone.

Local search parties found 227 of the 298 victims earlier and they were flown to the Netherlands for identification.

Fighting still rages, with 10 Ukrainian soldiers killed nearby on Thursday.

Dutch and Australian forensic experts have found human remains at the site of the flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine

Dutch and Australian forensic experts have found human remains at the site of the flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine

The fighting between government troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels had previously prevented the investigators reaching the area.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 airliner came down on July 17 with the loss of all 298 passengers and crew, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

After Ukraine’s military declared a unilateral one-day suspension of operations against the rebels in Donetsk region on Thursday, an exploratory visit was made by the forensic experts, followed by the full deployment on Friday.

It is now unclear whether Ukraine’s army or separatist forces control the site, as fighting continues nearby.

The head of the search mission, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, announced that it had completed its first day of work and had recovered human remains which would be sent to the Netherlands.

He said the mission was moving to a new base in the Donetsk town of Soledar.

The investigators had travelled in 16 vehicles to the crash site, outside the village of Grabove, along with monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Artillery fire could be heard periodically somewhere in the distance during the work on Friday, AP news agency reports.

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International forensic scientists have reached the crash site of Malaysia Airlines plane in east Ukraine after the government halted military operations.

Australian and Dutch police experts arrived in a convoy of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors.

Fighting between government and rebel forces had prevented them getting there for nearly a week.

Australia believes that around 80 bodies remain at the crash site.

Explosions were reportedly heard near the site after their arrival.

A journalist for AFP news agency heard several “powerful” blasts and saw a plume of smoke less than 6 miles from the crash site.

Russian aviation experts are also in Ukraine, hoping to visit the site.

The Malaysia Airlines plane crashed on 17 July in eastern Ukraine, with the deaths of all 298 people on board.

The rebels deny that they shot it down with a missile by mistake.

Officials in Russia, which has been accused by the US and others of supplying the rebels with advanced weaponry, suggest that Ukraine’s own armed forces downed the jet – a charge rejected by Kiev.

International forensic scientists have reached the crash site of Malaysia Airlines plane in east Ukraine after the government halted military operations

International forensic scientists have reached the crash site of Malaysia Airlines plane in east Ukraine after the government halted military operations

Russia has come under increased pressure to end its support for the rebels despite having continually denied claims that it is arming and training them.

OSCE monitors on the ground said in a tweet that they had reached the crash site with the Dutch and Australian investigators after using a new access route.

Getting out of their cars, they stopped for a minute’s silence in remembrance of those killed almost two weeks ago to the hour.

The Dutch justice ministry told AFP the Dutch-Australian team was so far only a “reconnaissance” mission but would hopefully pave the way for more experts to visit soon.

The Netherlands lost 193 of its citizens in the crash while Australia lost 27 and Malaysia 43.

Speaking on a visit to Kiev, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had been told that 80 bodies could still be at the crash site.

“We are determined to access the site, so that we can collect the remains with some dignity and return them to the Netherlands where they can be identified,” she said.

“And then the grieving families across the world who lost 298 people can have some closure.”

Malaysian PM Najib Razak said on a visit to the Netherlands that a team of 68 Malaysian police officers had arrived in Kiev to help with the investigation.

Speaking at a news conference, Najib Razak and his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, said they were united in mourning.

Mark Rutte outlined their three shared priorities: to repatriate the rest of the passengers’ remains from Ukraine, to establish the cause of the crash and to bring those responsible to justice.

The crash area appears to be still under the control of rebel fighters, an AP news agency journalist at the scene said.

A Russian delegation led by Oleg Storchevoy, deputy head of Russia’s federal air transport agency Rosaviatsia, arrived in Kiev earlier.

“Russian experts intend to meet the head of the investigative commission… and hand over all the materials that the chairman of the commission had previously asked for,” Rosaviatsia said in a statement.

“Today, the Russian representatives will also try to reach the crash area of the Boeing 777 and together with specialists from the international investigative commission examine the state of parts of the aircraft at the site.”

There was no comment on the Russians’ involvement from Ukrainian and Dutch officials approached by AP.

The press service for Ukraine’s “anti-terrorist operation” said troops would refrain from combat operations in the Donetsk region, except in self-defense, in order to allow investigators to do their work on Thursday.

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The downed Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine suffered an explosive loss of pressure after it was punctured by shrapnel from a missile, security officials in Ukraine say.

They say the information came from the plane’s flight data recorders, which are being analyzed by British experts.

However, it remains unclear who fired a missile, with pro-Russia rebels and Ukraine blaming each other.

The downed Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine suffered an explosive loss of pressure after it was punctured by shrapnel from a missile

The downed Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine suffered an explosive loss of pressure after it was punctured by shrapnel from a missile

Many of the 298 people killed on board flight MH17 were from the Netherlands.

Dutch investigators leading the inquiry into the crash have refused to comment on the Ukrainian claims.

Heavy fighting has prevented an international police force composed of Dutch and Australian officers from reaching the crash site for a second consecutive day.

Ukraine’s army said on Monday it had managed to capture two towns near the wreckage in its bid to win back territory from the hands of the rebels.

The international delegation was stopped in Shakhtarsk, a town some 20 miles away from the area where flight MH17 was brought down.

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According to the UN’s human rights chief, Navi Pillay, the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine may be a “war crime”.

Pro-Russia Ukrainian rebels and the Ukrainian authorities have accused each other of shooting down flight MH17.

A Ukrainian official said on Monday that MH17’s data recorders show it came down due to “massive explosive decompression” caused by a rocket.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting has again prevented an international police force from reaching the crash site.

The Ukrainian military said it was battling separatists for control of several towns near the site in eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people on board the airliner – mostly Dutch – died on July 17.

The downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine may be considered a war crime

The downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine may be considered a war crime

International police want to help secure the huge site so that plane wreckage and human remains can be examined by international crash experts.

Most of the bodies have been removed, many of them repatriated to the Netherlands.

“This violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of the downing of MH17.

“Every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law including war crimes will be brought to justice, no matter who they are,” she said.

Navi Pillay spoke as the latest UN report on Ukraine suggested at least 1,129 people have been killed and 3,442 wounded in the Ukraine conflict since mid-April.

The conflict has displaced more than 200,000 people, many of whom have fled east to neighboring Russia.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian security spokesman Andriy Lysenko told reporters on Monday that recovered flight data showed the aircraft crashed due to a massive, explosive loss of pressure after being punctured multiple times by shrapnel.

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According to Dutch PM Mark Rutte, sending out an international military force to secure the site of the downed Malaysian Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine is “unrealistic”.

The site is currently controlled by pro-Russia rebels who have been accused of shooting down flight MH17.

All 298 people on board – most of them Dutch – died.

In the latest fighting in the area, 13 people were killed as troops try to seize Horlivka from the rebels.

Separately, the US has released images to back its claim of Russian firing into Ukraine.

The images, showing marks on the ground and impact craters, suggest fire from multiple rocket launchers, the US state department says.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte says sending out an international military force to secure the site of the downed Malaysian Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine is unrealistic

Dutch PM Mark Rutte says sending out an international military force to secure the site of the downed Malaysian Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine is unrealistic

The pictures also indicate the separatists are using heavy artillery supplied by Russia, it added.

Russia denies supplying the rebels with heavy weaponry or firing across the frontier with Ukraine.

The rebels have been accused of shooting flight MH17 down by mistake, but Russia blames the Ukrainian military, an allegation Ukraine denies.

The crash site has yet to be properly investigated and some bodies have still not been recovered. An international push is under way to get the site secured.

However, Mark Rutte, speaking to reporters in The Hague, said: “Getting the military upper hand for an international mission in this area is, according to our conclusion, not realistic.”

He said it would be “such a provocation to the separatists that it could destabilize the situation”.

Mark Rutte said all options were being looked at. The Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia had been considering a joint operation.

Dutch experts on Sunday cancelled plans to head to the site after international officials said fighting in the region was still going on.

“We can’t take the risk,” said Alexander Hug, of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

There are still plans for Australia and the Netherlands to deploy 49 police officers, following a deal struck by Malaysia with the rebels to allow international police at the site.

“Our objective is to get in, get cracking and to get out,” Australian PM Tony Abbott said.

The eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have been gripped by heavy fighting as government forces try to retake rebel strongholds.

Aside from the fighting in Horlivka, shelling was also reported close to the MH17 crash site, near the town of Grabove, on Sunday.

Rebels have prevented journalists going to the site and Ukrainian government forces are said to be nearby.

A total of 227 coffins containing the remains of the victims have been sent for identification to the Netherlands, which is leading the crash investigation.

The first MH17 victim has been identified, though officials did not reveal any details.

Officials say the exact number of bodies already collected will be determined only after forensic experts have completed their examination.

Russia said on Sunday it had set up its own team of experts to investigate the plane crash, according to RIA Novosti agency.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Maria Putina, has fled her Dutch home as fury grows over Malaysia Airlines tragedy.

Maria Putina, 29, lived just 20 miles from the airport where the doomed jet departed from.

News that Maria Putina was living among a nation of people still fuming over Russia’s role in the downing of Flight MH17 was only going to spark more outrage.

Once it became known Maria Putina had a $3.2 million apartment not far from the Dutch airport where the doomed jet left on its final, tragic journey, the angry protests quickly started.

Maria Putina and her Dutch boyfriend, Jorrit Faasen, 34, who lived in a riverside flat in Voorschoten on the outskirts of the Dutch capital, fled amid the mounting fury.

One resident said tonight: “We have not seen her here since the plane went down.

Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Maria Putina, has fled her Dutch home as fury grows over Malaysia Airlines tragedy.

Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Maria Putina, has fled her Dutch home as fury grows over Malaysia Airlines tragedy.

“She moved in last year and it was all kept quiet for a while. But once it became known who she was, there was certainly some disquiet. And now this has happened. She is obviously not responsible for her father’s actions but we don’t want ­demonstrations around here.”

Many blame President Vladimir Putin for Malaysia Airlines disaster, insisting Kremlin chiefs supplied the missile that blasted the MH17 flight out of the sky at 30,000ft – killing 298 passengers and crew, including 193 Dutch.

Pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists control the region where it crashed. Although they deny being ­responsible and claim the Ukrainian shot it down in a blame game that last night was showing no sign of ending.

The bodies will be identified in the town of Hilversum, near Amsterdam.

Mayor Pieter Broertjes also spoke of his anger at the presence of Vladimir Putin’s daughter in Holland.

He said: “We could also deport Putin’s daughter, she lives in The Netherlands. Then you’ve got a whole different signal you could give.”

Pieter Broertjes later apologized for the comments and admitted they were “not wise”.

But he added: “They stemmed from a feeling of helplessness that many would recognize.”

Maria Putina’s position in Holland was made more perilous after Ukrainian activists published her address on websites.

Her whereabouts were last night unknown.

Vladimir Putin is reported to have a personal wealth of more than $65 billion, with properties around the world including a $320 million palace on the Black Sea.

Jorrit Faasen is also understood to be wealthy in his own right. He worked as an executive for Russian energy giant Gazprom.

There were reports Maria Putina and Jorrit Faasen could be back in Moscow where they can be better protected by Vladimir Putin.

The only existing pictures of Maria Putina are from when Vladimir Putin first came to power in 1999, when he was pictured with her, her sister ­Ekaterina, and his ex-wife Lyudmila.

Known as Masha to friends, Maria Putina was born in Petersburg and was named after her dad’s mother.

Maria Putina is thought to have studied biology at St Petersburg State University – where Vladimir Putin attended.

Vladimir Putin is extremely protective of his ­daughters’ privacy.

Yekaterina Putina, 27, is believed to have married the son of a South Korean admiral, though her life is also shrouded in mystery.

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Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Dutch city of Hilversum, used a radio interview on July 23 to call for Vladimir Putin’s daughter, Maria Putina, to be expelled from Netherlands in the wake of Malaysia Airlines disaster.

Maria Putina, 29, is said to live in Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend.

More than half of the 298 people killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine last week were Dutch.

Maria Putina is said to live in Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend, Jorrit Faassen

Maria Putina is said to live in Voorschoten with her Dutch boyfriend, Jorrit Faassen

Pieter Broertjes later apologized for his remarks via Twitter, saying they were “not wise”, but adding that “they stemmed from a feeling of helplessness that many will recognize”.

The Dutch government has declared July 23 a day of national mourning and marked the bodies’ arrival with a minute’s silence across the country.

Ukrainians living in Holland have also called for a peaceful protest outside Maria Putina’s flat, according to De Telegraaf newspaper. It published a photograph of the apartment complex where Maria Putina is said to live alongside the article on Monday.

Very little is known about the Russian president’s two daughters, Maria and Yekaterina (Katya), who are completely sheltered from media attention and have never been officially photographed as adults.

However, there have been persistent rumors linking Maria Putina with Dutch citizen Jorrit Faassen. Dutch media claimed that Vladimir Putin visited the couple last year, something his spokesman denied.

Jorrit Faassen has held senior roles in the Russian firms Gazprom and Stroytransgaz, a pipeline manufacturer, and hit the headlines when he was reportedly assaulted by the bodyguards of Russian banker Matvei Urin in a road-rage incident in Moscow in 2010.

Matvei Urin was later arrested and jailed for fraud.

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The US State Department says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions.

Russia also intends “to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers” to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the US State Department said.

Russia has frequently denied sending any rocket launchers into Ukraine.

The US comment comes a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, with the rebels widely accused of shooting it down.

The US State Department says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions

The US State Department says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions

Multinational efforts to find the cause of the crash are under way, led by the Netherlands which lost 193 of its citizens. All 298 people on board the flight died in the crash.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte has announced 40 unarmed military police are being sent to the crash site as part of efforts to find the last MH17 victims.

He said there would be more people working on the crash site and his government was looking at ways to make it more secure.

The US, which has repeatedly accused Russia of fuelling separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine, says it believes that rebels shot down flight MH17 with a Russian-provided SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile, probably by mistake.

Leading rebels in eastern Ukraine have given conflicting accounts of whether they had control of a Buk launcher at the time the plane was downed.

State department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on Thursday the US had evidence derived from “human intelligence information” showing Russia firing artillery into eastern Ukraine.

She said the US would not provide further details so as not to compromise sources and methods of intelligence collection.

Earlier on Thursday, the EU said it was adding 15 people and 18 entities to the list of sanctions against Russia and Ukraine.

It comes as two more planes carrying the remains of some of the passengers and crew of flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands for forensic identification at a barracks south of the Dutch city of Hilversum.

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Sky News reporter Colin Brazier has admitted he made errors to handle Malaysia Airlines passengers’ belongings at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine.

Writing in The Guardian, Colin Brazier said the crash site was unchecked and he was “free to walk around at will”.

However, the journalist called his “gaffe” a “serious error of judgement” and said he cried on-air after seeing a child’s flask.

More than 100 people complained to UK’s media watchdog Ofcom after Colin Brazier’s live Sunday lunchtime broadcast.

The complaints are currently being assessed before the broadcasting regulator decides whether to launch an investigation.

The report showed Colin Brazier picking up items from an open suitcase.

Colin Brazier has admitted he made errors to handle Malaysia Airlines passengers' belongings at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine

Colin Brazier has admitted he made errors to handle Malaysia Airlines passengers’ belongings at the MH17 crash site in Ukraine (photo Sky News)

He dropped them back into the luggage saying “we shouldn’t really be doing this I suppose, really”.

A Sky News spokesperson said both Colin Brazier and the station “apologize profusely for any offence caused”.

Writing his version of events following a vociferous backlash on social media, Colin Brazier said other journalists were acting on the freedom they had on the crash site, and “foolishly took that as a precedent”.

Colin Brazier said the moment he realized he was doing something wrong “came too late” and just after the moment when he began crying, which was not picked up on poor quality replays of his report on the internet.

“At the weekend I got things wrong. If there was someone to apologize to in person, I would,” he wrote in his article.

Colin Brazier added his on-air apology was “only selectively quoted by those determined to see what I did as a powerful example of journalistic vulturism”.

He said in a live and open-ended item from Ukraine, there was “no obvious frame of reference” but the crew chose “to avoid pointing a live camera anywhere a corpse might be seen”.

Colin Brazier described how he reported from the site of another air disaster at Lake Constance in 2004, where “within hours police had sealed off a sterile area and no journalists were allowed in, while forensic investigators and recovery teams went in”.

He described the Ukraine site as a lawless warzone where journalists where not kept at bay.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 people on board were killed.

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Scammers are using Malaysia Airlines plane crash in east Ukraine to spread objectionable links, online security experts have warned.

Links to different websites disguised as a video of the Malaysia Airlines crash were posted on a Facebook page dedicated to one victim.

Many tweets have been posted that appeared to report the disaster, but actually included spam links.

One expert said the social networks should take more responsibility for removing them.

Scammers are using Malaysia Airlines plane crash in east Ukraine to spread objectionable links

Scammers are using Malaysia Airlines plane crash in east Ukraine to spread objectionable links

A Facebook community page dedicated to Liam Sweeney, one of the 298 people victims, uses his name and picture.

Its sole post is a link entitled: “Video Camera Caught the moment plane MH17 Crash over Ukraine”.

Twitter’s rules state: “User abuse and technical abuse are not tolerated on Twitter.com, and may result in permanent suspension.

“Any accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be subject to permanent suspension: If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #, trending or popular topic, or promoted trend.”

Many previous disasters had been exploited in a similar way and that it expected to see further exploitation of the MH17 crash.

Ukrainian separatists have handed over two flight-data recorders from the downed MH17 plane to Malaysian experts.

The handover came hours after the UN Security Council voted unanimously to demand immediate international access to the crash site.

EU foreign ministers will consider more sanctions against Russia on Tuesday.

The Malaysian Airlines passenger jet crashed last Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

Western nations say there is growing evidence that flight MH17 was hit by a Russian-supplied missile fired by rebels, but Russia has suggested Ukrainian government forces are to blame.

EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, are thought likely to discuss expanding the list of Russian officials targeted by sanctions, but have so far steered clear of targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy.

Both the EU and the US imposed sanctions on Moscow following its annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian separatists have handed over two flight-data recorders from the downed MH17 plane to Malaysian experts

Ukrainian separatists have handed over two flight-data recorders from the downed MH17 plane to Malaysian experts

Experts say the “black boxes” will reveal the exact time of the incident and the altitude and precise position of the aircraft.

They should also contain the cockpit voice recorder, which it is hoped will provide clues as to what the cause of the crash was.

The head of the Malaysian delegation at the handover in Donetsk told reporters that the recorders were “in good condition”.

The handover followed talks between the rebel commander and self-styled Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Borodai and the Malaysian PM Najib Razak, according to a statement of Najib Razak.

The Malaysian prime minister also said those talks led to the rebels agreeing to allow the bodies to be transported to Kharkiv and international investigators to access the area.

“In recent days, there were times I wanted to give greater voice to the anger and grief that the Malaysian people feel and that I feel,” he said.

“But sometimes, we must work quietly in the service of a better outcome.”

Pro-Russian rebels allowed a freight train carrying the bodies of 282 passengers to be moved from a town near the crash site to Donetsk on Monday.

The Malaysian experts and a Dutch delegation are travelling with the train to the city of Kharkiv, where it is expected to arrive later on Tuesday.

From there, the bodies will be prepared for transfer by air to the Netherlands where forensic experts will evaluate and identify them.

Meanwhile a UN resolution, proposed by Australia, was passed calling for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the downing of the plane over Grabove on July 17.

It also demanded that those responsible “be held to account and that all states co-operate fully with efforts to establish accountability”.

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The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution demanding access to Malaysia Airlines plane crash site in the rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russian separatists earlier allowed bodies from the Malaysia Airlines crash to be taken to the city of Kharkiv and handed over to international experts.

Western nations say the rebels struck MH17 with a Russian-supplied missile, killing all 298 people on board.

Meanwhile, the main rebel-held city of Donetsk has seen heavy clashes.

Eyewitnesses say there is violence near the city’s airport and the railway station.

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution demanding access to Malaysia Airlines plane crash site in the rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution demanding access to Malaysia Airlines plane crash site in the rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine (photo RT)

The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.

The UN resolution, proposed by Australia, calls for a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the downing of the plane over Grabove on July 17.

It also demands that those responsible “be held to account and that all states co-operate fully with efforts to establish accountability”.

“We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the meeting in New York.

All 15 council members, including Russia, voted in favor.

However, Russia’s envoy, Vitaly Churkin, warned that the Security Council should avoid jumping to conclusions about the cause of the crash.

UK’s PM David Cameron earlier said there was strong evidence that pro-Russian separatists shot down the plane with an anti-aircraft system known as Buk.

Russia denied allegations that it had supplied such missiles or “any other weapons” to the rebels.

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Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have allowed Dutch investigators to examine bodies from the crashed Malaysia Airlines plane at a railway station.

The three Dutch experts said the train might leave the town of Torez later.

All 298 people on board flight MH17 died when it crashed over the rebel-held area on July 17. The US and other nations say there is growing evidence of Russian complicity in the crash.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting is reported in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk.

The clashes – involving heavy weapons – are continuing near the city’s airport and the railway station, eyewitnesses say.

At least three civilians were reported killed, and one multi-storey building was seen on fire.

The Dutch experts from the Disaster Victims Identification team are the first international investigators to arrive in the region where the Boeing 777 went down after being reportedly hit by a missile.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been at the accident site, but their access to the wreckage was limited by the rebels.

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have allowed Dutch investigators to examine bodies from the crashed Malaysia Airlines plane at a railway station

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have allowed Dutch investigators to examine bodies from the crashed Malaysia Airlines plane at a railway station

On Monday, the Dutch experts examined some of the 196 bodies kept in refrigerator wagons in Torez, some 9 miles away from the crash site.

“I think the storage of the bodies is of good quality,” team leader Peter van Leit said after the inspection.

The investigators added that they had urged the rebels to allow the train to leave.

Correspondents in Torez said the smell of decay emanating from the carriages was overwhelming.

The Dutch experts also later visited the crash site, where some passengers’ remains were still lying in bags exposed to summer heat.

Russia’s media fears MH17 will shape future diplomacy.

“The situation surrounding the Malaysian Boeing 777 shot down over Ukraine is becoming a key factor in world politics,” says business daily Kommersant.

However, Russian liberal thrice-weekly Novaya Gazeta diverts from the party line today: “There is practically no doubt that the airliner was shot down by the separatists.”

Ukraine’s press continues to accuse Moscow. Popular tabloid Segodnya leads with “Ukraine has enough evidence of Russia’s guilt”.

Russian and Ukraine media agree on the further souring of relations.

Business daily Capital says: “The downing of the airliner in Donbas turns the regional conflict into an international one. Peace will not come soon.”

A Malaysian team of 133 officials and experts, comprising of search and recovery personnel, forensics experts, technical and medical experts has arrived in Ukraine. A separate UK group of air accident investigators is also there.

However, the government in Kiev says it has been unable to establish a safe corridor to the crash site.

There has been international outcry over the way rebels have handled the situation, delaying access to the site and allowing untrained volunteers to comb through the area.

The rebels have said they will hand over MH17’s flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), but the US state department has accused rebels of tampering with other potential evidence.

Heavy machinery could be seen moving plane debris at the crash site on Sunday.

Russia again on Monday denied allegations it supplied the separatists with an anti-aircraft system known as Buk that was allegedly used to shoot down flight MH17.

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According to new reports, the remains of up to 196 people from Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in Ukraine have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons, to be taken to an unknown destination.

All 298 people on board of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 died when a missile reportedly hit the plane on July 17.

Western countries have criticized pro-Russian rebels controlling the area for restricting access to the crash site.

The rebels say they will hand MH17’s flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Ukraine’s government and the rebels have accused each other of shooting down the Boeing 777, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The remains of up to 196 people from Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons, to be taken to an unknown destination

The remains of up to 196 people from Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons, to be taken to an unknown destination

The US state department said there had been multiple reports of bodies and aircraft parts being removed, and potential evidence tampered with, by rebels.

Heavy machinery could be seen moving plane debris around at the crash site, AP news agency reported.

Separately, UK broadcaster Sky News apologized after one of its presenters was shown going through items in a suitcase belonging to one of the passengers.

Fighting is reportedly continuing in eastern Ukraine between the separatist rebels and government forces in a conflict which erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.

The freight train with its five sealed wagons has been standing at Torez railway station, 9 miles from the crash site.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission in the region said in a tweet it had been told that 196 bodies were on the rail wagons in Torez.

An OSCE team was allowed to see three of the wagons and observed “tagged body bags”, without being able to verify the figures. It’s not clear where the train will take the bodies.

In a mark of respect to the dead, Malaysia Airline says it is retiring the MH17 flight number. The airline did the same for MH370, which disappeared in March with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Russia denies any involvement in the downing of the Malaysian plane, and has rejected Western allegations that it is stoking the Ukraine conflict.

The passenger list released by Malaysia Airlines shows the plane was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one with dual US nationality), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one with dual South African nationality), four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines, and one each from Canada and New Zealand.

Memorial services and vigils have been held in many countries, including Australia, Malaysia and the Netherlands.

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Russia has been asked by the western countries to put pressure on Ukrainian rebels to allow unhindered access to the site of Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines crash.

Dutch PM Mark Rutte said he had told Russian President Vladimir Putin that time was “running out” to show he could help. Most crash victims were Dutch.

The US and Britain also told Russia full access to the area was needed.

Memorial services are being held in Australia, with more planned in other countries later on Sunday.

In Melbourne, a special mass was held for the HIV experts and campaigners on the flight who were making their way to the city for an international AIDS conference.

The passenger list released by Malaysia Airlines shows the plane was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one with dual US nationality), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one with dual South African nationality), 4 Germans, 4 Belgians, three from the Philippines, and one each from Canada and New Zealand.

Both Ukraine and the pro-Russian rebels have accused each other of shooting down the Boeing 777, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Flight MH17 was reportedly hit by a missile over a rebel-held area in Donetsk region on Thursday. All 298 people on board died.

International observers have had their movements around the crash site restricted by pro-Russia militiamen.

Russia has been asked by the western countries to put pressure on Ukrainian rebels to allow unhindered access to the site of Malaysia Airlines crash

Russia has been asked by the western countries to put pressure on Ukrainian rebels to allow unhindered access to the site of Malaysia Airlines crash

The US said it was “deeply concerned” at the limited access to the site.

“It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible,” said a statement from the State Department in Washington.

Ukraine has accused militiamen at the site of the Malaysia Airlines crash of trying to destroy evidence of an “international crime”.

In a news conference on Saturday, Mark Rutte said he had had an “intense” phone call with Vladimir Putin.

“I told him <<Time is running out for you to show the world that you have good intentions>>,” Mark Rutte said.

He added that Dutch people were “furious” at pictures of bodies being carried across the open country, and called on Vladimir Putin “to show that he will do what is expected of him and will exert his influence”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke to Vladimir Putin on Saturday, urging his co-operation.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) are at the crash site.

OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said access had improved compared to Friday and that the monitors were seeing parts of the terrain they had not seen before, but that their movements were still being restricted.

The monitors are there to observe the site ahead of the arrival of international investigators.

Tougher EU sanctions against Russia will be needed if Moscow does not change its “approach” to the downing of the plane, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated.

David Cameron said the EU should stand up for its principles, amid claims Russia-backed rebels were involved.

PM David Cameron and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott agreed the two countries would apply “further pressure” at the UN Security Council “for swift and unhindered access” to the site, Cameron’s office said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the disaster in a phone conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

John Kerry made clear that the US was “very concerned” over reports that bodies and debris from the site had been removed or tampered with, the state department said.

On Friday, President Barack Obama said Malaysia Airlines plane had been destroyed by a missile fired from a rebel area, and that insurgents would not be capable of carrying out such an attack without Moscow’s support.

Russia denies any involvement and has rejected Western allegations that it is stoking the Ukraine conflict.

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President Barack Obama has said a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area in east Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Malaysia Airlines plane crashed on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.

Barack Obama confirmed one American was among the plane’s victims.

Confirmed death toll so far:

Netherlands: 189

Malaysia: 44 (including 15 crew)

Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in rebel-held Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board

Malaysia Airlines plane crashed in rebel-held Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board

Australian: 27

Indonesia: 12

UK: 10

Germany: 4

Belgium: 4

Philippines: 3

Canada: 1

New Zealand: 1

US: 1

Unverified: 2

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A surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area in east Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, President Barack Obama has said during a press conference.

The plane crashed on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

Barack Obama called the attack “an outrage of unspeakable proportions”, saying he would ensure “the truth is out”.

The US and Russia clashed at the UN Security Council, with Russia’s envoy putting the blame on Ukraine for its army’s attacks on eastern areas.

Up to 20 international observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) reached the crash scene near the village of Grabovo on Friday.

However, Swiss Ambassador to the OSCE Thomas Greminger said the team did not get full access and were stopped by “local illegal armed groups”.

The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighboring region of Donetsk.

Latest figures released by Malaysia Airlines show the plane was carrying 189 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 44 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons, along with a number of other nationalities.

President Barack Obama has said a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area in east Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

President Barack Obama has said a surface-to-air missile fired from a rebel-held area in east Ukraine brought down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Confirming one American was among the plane’s victims, Barack Obama said: “Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.”

Thepresident said in a briefing at the White House: “I think it’s important for us to recognize that this outrageous event underscored that it is time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine.

“Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences.”

Barack Obama called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. He demanded that full access be granted to investigators and that evidence should not be tampered with.

He said: “This was a global tragedy… The eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out.”

Barack Obama said it was up to Russia to stop the flow of heavy armaments and fighters into Ukraine.

Earlier at the UN, US envoy Samantha Power said the US could not rule out that Russians had helped the separatists fire the missile.

Samantha Power added: “President Putin has committed on several occasions to working towards dialogue and peace, and every single time he has broken that commitment.

“Russia can end this war. Russia must end this war.”

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “Pressure should not be brought on this investigation, trying to prejudge its outcome with broad statements and insinuations that are unjustified.”

He said the Ukrainian military was responsible for “punitive operations on civilian targets and infrastructure, with dozens of civilians killed”, saying the attacks must be stopped as soon as possible.

Vitaly Churkin also criticized the US, which he said had “pushed Ukraine to escalate the crisis and passed the blame on to Russia”.

He also questioned why the Ukrainian aviation authorities had not closed the air space earlier.

The OSCE said its team spent 75 minutes at the site but its movement was restricted and it had not been able to seal off the area or secure a corridor to allow access for investigators.

OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said it discovered no information about the plane’s flight recorder and it was unclear who was in charge.

The rebels have accused the Ukrainian government of downing the airliner.

However, Ukraine called the disaster an “act of terrorism”. Ukrainian authorities released what they say are intercepted phone conversations that proved the plane was shot down by separatists.

Ukraine accuses Russia of aiding the rebels and supplying them with advanced weapons.

MH17 is the second disaster suffered by Malaysia Airlines this year.

Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Malaysia to China on March 8 and has still not been found.

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Malaysia Airlines shares closed down 11% in Malaysia following the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Some Asian stock markets also ended the day lower on fears the crash may intensify political tensions between the West, Ukraine and Russia.

This is the second catastrophe to hit the Malaysian airline this year after flight MH370 disappeared in March.

Questions are being asked about whether the carrier can now survive.

Malaysia Airlines shares closed down 11 percent in Malaysia following the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines shares closed down 11 percent in Malaysia following the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine (photo AP)

“Even if this is pure coincidence, it’s never happened in history that a flag carrier has seen two wide-body aircraft disappearing in a few months,” said Bertrand Grabowski, head of aviation at DVB Bank, which acts as a banker to Malaysia Airlines.

“The support from the government needs to be more explicit and perhaps more massive.”

Malaysia Airlines has been losing money for many years and its market value has fallen by more than 40% in the past nine months.

Reports suggest that state investment company Khazanah Nasional, the major shareholder in Malaysia Airlines, is looking to take the carrier private.

Khazanah Nasional has invested more than $1 billion into the airline in recent years and had previously indicated that a major restructuring was on the cards.

Analysts said further investment was needed if Malaysia Airlines was to survive in the short term.

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Prominent AIDS expert Joep Lange was among up to 100 scientists, activists, researchers and health workers who died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash in Ukraine.

They are thought to have been heading to this year’s international AIDS conference in Australia.

Prof. Joep Lange was a prominent and popular researcher and a former president of the International AIDS Society (IAS).

The IAS representatives said they would have “truly lost a giant”.

Delegates, who have already arrived at the conference in Australia said they were in “total shock”.

More than 14,000 scientists, campaigners and politicians are meeting at the AIDS 2014 conference, which starts in Melbourne at the weekend.

Prof. Joep Lange was a prominent and popular researcher and a former president of the International AIDS Society

Prof. Joep Lange was a prominent and popular researcher and a former president of the International AIDS Society

Joep Lange, was a professor of medicine at the University of Amsterdam, and has been involved in HIV research since the virus first emerged in the 1980s.

He trialed antiretroviral therapies, which have now transformed HIV into a manageable disease.

Prof. Joep Lange also worked on preventing the virus passing from mother to child during pregnancy and labor.

He is described as a leader in his field, and between 2002 and 2004 was the president of the IAS.

Malaysia Airlines plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

Prof. Joep Lange’s partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, was also reportedly on board.

The IAS said the conference would go ahead with “opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost”.

It added: “The IAS is hearing unconfirmed reports that some of our friends and colleagues were on board the flight and if that is the case this is a truly sad day.

“The IAS has also heard reports that among the passengers was a former IAS president Joep Lange and if that is the case then the HIV/Aids movement has truly lost a giant.”

Another delegate, Glenn Thomas, a media spokesman from the World Health Organization (WHO), was also on board.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said: “For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve.

“We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional. Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock.”

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Malaysia Airlines crash confirmed death toll so far:

Netherlands: 189

Malaysia: 44 (including 15 crew)

Australian: 27

Indonesia: 12

UK: 9

Germany: 4

At least 298 people perished when MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine

At least 298 people perished when MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine

Belgium: 4

Philippines: 3

Canada: 1

New Zealand: 1

Unverified: 4

Total: 298

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Malaysia Airlines steward Sanjid Singh changed shifts to fly on the plane which crashed in Ukraine on Thursday – months after such a swap saved his wife from a similar fate in MH370 tragedy.

Sanjid Singh, 40, was one of the 15 crew members on the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was carrying 298 people.

In an extraordinary twist of fate, Sanjid Singh’s wife, also a flight attendant, had switched from Malaysian jet MH370 which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 with 239 passengers on board, according to a report in The Malaysian Insider.

Malaysia Airlines steward Sanjid Singh changed shifts to fly on the plane which crashed in Ukraine

Malaysia Airlines steward Sanjid Singh changed shifts to fly on the plane which crashed in Ukraine

“Sanjid’s wife was meant to fly on MH370 but swapped with another colleague at the last minute,” Jijar Singh, the steward’s father, told the newspaper.

Sanjid Singh lived with his wife and their seven-year-old son in Kuala Lumpur.

“He was last here [in Penang] about a month ago. He told us recently that he swapped with a colleague for the return Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight,” Jijar Singh said.

Jijar Singh said his son had been expected to visit them after his return from Amsterdam.

“His mother had prepared all his favorite dishes,” he said.

Jijar Singh’s daughter, who lives in Italy, informed him of the crash early on Friday, after learning of her brother’s death four hours earlier.

“I have undergone two heart bypasses. Our daughter waited until four in the morning to tell us. She dare not tell us earlier. I am 71 and she [Sanjid’s mother] is 73. We are in such a state. My whole body is shivering,” Jijar Singh told the newspaper.

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Ukrainian authorities intercepted phone conversations between pro-Russian rebels and what appear to be Russian military officers saying that separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The Ukrainian Security Service put the Russian-language conversations on YouTube within hours of the crash.

However, the veracity of the recordings cannot be confirmed.

First recording

[Male voice, identified as separatist leader Igor Bezler]: The group of the Miner [an alias] has just shot down a plane, which came down just behind Yenakiyevo.

[Col. Vasily Geranin]: Pilots. Where are the pilots?

[Igor Bezler]: Gone to search for and photograph the plane. It’s smoking.

[Second male voice, identified as Russian military intelligence Colonel Vasily Geranin]: How many minutes ago?

[Igor Bezler]: About 30 minutes ago.

Second recording

Ukrainian authorities intercepted phone conversations between pro-Russian rebels and what appear to be Russian military officers saying that separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

Ukrainian authorities intercepted phone conversations between pro-Russian rebels and what appear to be Russian military officers saying that separatists shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17

[Male voice, captioned as “The Greek”]: Yes, Major.

[Major]: Well, the Chernukhino lads shot down the plane.

[Greek]: Who shot it down?

[Major]: From the Chernukhino roadblock. The Cossacks at Chernukhino.

[Greek]: Yes, Major.

[Major]: Well, the plane fell apart in the air, near the Pertropavlovskaya coal mine. The first casualty 200 [military jargon for dead body] has been found. A civilian.

[Greek]: Well, what do you have there?

[Major]: Basically it was 100% a civilian aircraft.

[Greek]: Are many people there?

[Major] [Curses]: The debris fell right into backyard.

[Greek]: What kind of aircraft?

[Major]: I have not figured this out yet because I haven’t been close to the main body of the debris. I am only looking where the first bodies began to fall. There are the remnants of inner brackets, chairs and bodies there.

[Greek]: I see. Any weaponry there?

[Major]: Nothing at all. Civilian things, medical bits and bobs, towels, toilet paper.

[Greek]: Any documents?

[Major]: Yes. From an Indonesian student. From Thompson University [curses].

Third recording

[Male voice, identified as a fighter]: Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snezhnoye-Torez. It’s a civilian one. Fell down near Grabovo. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this.

They say on TV it’s a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s got Malaysia Airlines written on the plane. What was it doing in Ukrainian territory?

[Male voice, identified as Cossack commander Nikolai Kozitsyn]: That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be [curses] flying. There is a war going on.

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Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have announced they will give international investigators access to the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet.

The rebels vowed to secure the site and allow the recovery of bodies, the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said.

Malaysia Airlines plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in rebel-held territory on Thursday.

The two sides in Ukraine’s civil conflict have accused each other of shooting the jet down with a missile.

The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighboring region of Donetsk.

Malaysia Airlines said flight MH17 was carrying at least 154 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and nine Britons.

Other passengers came from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada. The dead include world-renowned Dutch researcher Joep Lange who was among a number of passengers en route to an international AIDS conference in Australia.

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have announced they will give international investigators access to the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet

Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have announced they will give international investigators access to the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet

It is the second disaster suffered by Malaysia Airlines this year. Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Malaysia to China in March and has still not been found.

The separatists pledged to provide assistance in the crash probe after holding a video conference with senior representatives from the OSCE, Ukraine and Russia.

In a statement, the OSCE said the rebels had agreed to “close off the site of the catastrophe and allow local authorities to start preparations for the recovery of bodies”.

They would also provide “safe access” to international investigators and OSCE monitors and co-operate with Ukrainian authorities.

Ukraine has declared the area a no-fly zone, while other airlines have announced they are now setting flight paths to avoid eastern Ukraine.

Describing the disaster as a “tragic day” in a “tragic year”, Malaysian PM Najib Razak earlier said the investigation “must not be hindered in any way”.

Rescue workers said on Friday they had recovered one of the plane’s black box flight recorders after searching through debris spread across several miles.

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency earlier reported that another black box was found by separatist fighters and handed over to Moscow. Observers say the move, if confirmed, is likely to cause international controversy.

US and Ukrainian officials said they believed the plane had been brought down by a missile – a Buk missile system said to have been used by the rebels in Ukraine before.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko called the disaster an “act of terrorism”.

Ukrainian authorities have released what they say are intercepted phone conversations that proved the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

The rebels were said to have seized the Buk after overrunning a Ukrainian military base.

However, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema has cast doubt on this, telling local media: “The military told the president after the passenger plane had been shot down that the terrorists did not possess our Buk missile systems.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the Ukraine government for restarting military operations in the area, where it is trying to regain control from pro-Russian rebels.

“The country in whose airspace this happened bears responsibility for it,” he said.

Russia has called for a “thorough and unbiased” investigation, adding that the tragedy also highlighted a need for a swift end to the Ukrainian conflict.

Separatist leader Alexander Borodai also accused the Ukrainian government of downing the airliner.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said there were no air force jets in the area and no surface-to-air systems being used against the rebels.

Ukraine has accused Russia’s military of supplying advanced missiles to the rebels.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian officials blamed the Russian air force for shooting down one of its ground attack jets on Wednesday, and a transport plane on Monday.

The UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on the disaster on Friday morning in New York.

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