World leaders demand answers after airliner downed over Ukraine with 298 dead

World leaders demand answers after airliner downed over Ukraine with 298 dead
# 18 July 2014 20:44 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. World leaders called for a rapid investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine and justice for nearly 300 deaths that could mark a pivotal moment in deteriorating relations between Russia and the West.

As Ukraine sought to rally international support against Russia, two U.S. officials said Washington strongly suspected the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 298 aboard was downed by a missile fired by Ukrainian rebels backed by Moscow.

There were no survivors from Thursday's crash, the deadliest such attack on a commercial airliner, which scattered bodies across miles of rebel-held territory near the border with Russia. Flight MH17 was heading for Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

Makeshift white flags marked where bodies lay in corn fields and among the debris. Others, stripped bare by the force of the crash, had been covered by polythene sheeting weighed down by stones, one marked with a flower in remembrance.

One pensioner told how a corpse smashed though the roof of her house. "There was a howling noise and everything started to rattle. Then objects started falling out of the sky," said Irina Tipunova, 65. "And then I heard a roar and she landed in the kitchen."

Though no Americans were confirmed aboard - more than half those who died were Dutch - U.S. investigators were preparing to head to Ukraine to assist in the investigation, an official said. Another expressed concern it could be hampered by delays.

The scale of the disaster could prove a turning point for international pressure to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed hundreds since pro-Western protests toppled the Moscow-backed president in Kiev in February and Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula a month later.

While the West has imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, the United States has been more aggressive than the European Union. Analysts say the response of Germany and other EU powers to the incident - possibly imposing more sanctions - could be crucial in deciding the next phase of the standoff with Moscow.

Some commentators even recalled Germany's sinking of the Atlantic liner Lusitania in 1915, which helped push the United States into World War One, but outrage in the West at Thursday's carnage is not seen as leading to military intervention.

The U.N. Security Council called for a "full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the downing of the plane and "appropriate accountability" for those responsible.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in an initial response, said it was too early to decide on further sanctions before it was known exactly what had happened to the plane. Britain said the facts must be established by a UN-led investigation before additional sanctions were seriously considered.

Kiev and Moscow immediately blamed each other for the disaster, triggering a new phase in their propaganda war.

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