One US official said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile fired by Ukrainian separatists backed by Moscow.

There were no survivors from Thursday's crash, which left wreckage and bodies scattered across miles of rebel-held territory.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has called for a full investigation into the crash of Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine as he expressed his condolences to the families of the 298 victims who died in the disaster.

"I am closely monitoring the reports, along with the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency. There is clearly a need for a full and transparent international investigation," Ban said.

United States called for an immediate ceasefire to allow easy access to the crash site, while pro-Russian separatists told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a security and rights body, they would ensure safe access for international experts visiting the scene.

The Netherlands declared a day of national mourning for its 154 dead. Twenty-eight passengers were Malaysian, 28 Australian, 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, four Belgian, three Filipino and one each from Canada and New Zealand. All 15 crew were Malaysian. Nationalities of the others aboard were unclear.


Ukraine is of the view that Malaysia Airlines jet was blown up over Eastern Ukraine by a sophisticated missile believed to be fired by pro-Russia rebels.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak demanded that perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice. "This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia. The flight's passengers were from many nations but we are all united in grief," Najib said.

Ukraine accused pro-Moscow militants, aided by Russian military intelligence officers, of firing a long-range, Soviet-era SA-11 ground-to-air missile.

Russian President Vladimir Putin - at loggerheads with the West over his policies toward Ukraine - pinned the blame on Kiev for renewing its offensive against rebels two weeks ago after a ceasefire failed to hold. The Kremlin leader called it a "tragedy" but did not say who brought the Boeing 777 down.

"There is no doubt that the country on whose territory this terrible tragedy happened bears responsibility," Putin was quoted by Ria Novosti news agency as saying.

"This tragedy would not have happened if there was peace in the country, if military operations had not resumed in the south-east of Ukraine," he added.

US President Barack Obama, who spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as well as other leaders, said evidence from the crash must remain in Ukraine so international investigators have a chance to look at all of it, officials said.

The government of Malaysia is dispatching a special flight to Kiev, carrying a special Malaysia disaster assistance and rescue team, as well as a medical team.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine was responsible for the crash of a Malaysian airline in the strife-torn east of the former Soviet state.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott appeared to go further than other Western leaders in apportioning blame, demanding on Friday that Moscow answer questions about the "Russian-backed rebels" that he said were behind the disaster.

More than 20 Australians were among the many nationalities aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The Netherlands was the worst affected, with 154 Dutch citizens on the downed plane.

A number of those on board were traveling to an international AIDS conference in Melbourne, including Joep Lange, an influential Dutch expert.

Swapping shift costs ethnic Indian flight steward his life

Swapping shift with a colleague cost ethnic Indian flight steward Sanjid Singh Sandu his life. 41-year-old Sanjid had switched his shift with a colleague on the ill-fated Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was shot down over Eastern Ukraine on Thursday.

According to his distraught father Jijar Singh, Sanjid's mother had planned to cook her son's favourite dishes upon his arrival in Penang, Malaysia.

"My son spoke to me over the phone just before his flight. I didn't know that would be my last conversation with him. What has happened has happened," Jijar, with tears flowing, told reporters at his house in Penang.

Jijar and his wife received the news from their daughter- in-law, who is also a flight stewardess at Malaysia Airlines, the Star newspaper reported.

He said Sanjid, fondly known as Bobby, was his youngest child and only son.


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who had stepped up an offensive in the east, spoke to Obama and sought to rally world opinion behind his cause.

"The external aggression against Ukraine is not just our problem but a threat to European and global security," he said in a statement.

Russia, which Western powers accuse of trying to destabilize Ukraine to maintain influence over its old Soviet empire, has accused Kiev's leaders of mounting a fascist coup. It says it is holding troops in readiness to protect Russian-speakers in the east - the same rationale it used for taking over Crimea.

News of the disaster came as Obama was on the phone with Putin, discussing a new round of economic sanctions that Washington and its allies have imposed to try to force Putin to do more to curb the revolt against the new government in Kiev.

Obama warned of further sanctions if Moscow did not change course in Ukraine, the White House said.

Ukrainian officials accused rebels of using a Soviet-era SA-11 missile system acquired from Russia.

After the downing of several Ukrainian military aircraft in the area in recent months, including two this week, Kiev had accused Russian forces of playing a direct role.

Separatists were quoted in Russian media last month saying they had acquired a long-range SA-11 anti-aircraft system.


The loss of MH17 is the second devastating blow for Malaysia Airlines this year, following the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370 in March, which vanished with 239 passengers and crew on board on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

"This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib.

Kiev complained that separatists prevented Ukrainian officials from reaching the site. Pro-Russian separatists in the region said on Thursday they had found one of the "black box" recorders.


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