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LIVE BLOG: MH17 crash reaction July 20

Live coverage of the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday (July 17). All 298 people on board were killed.

This live blog is now closed. For the latest updates on the MH17 crash, visit our new live blog here.

All times listed are Singapore/Kuala Lumpur time.

10.45PM: Treat the bodies of MH17 victims "with respect", Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has demanded, voicing concerns about the possibility of evidence being interfered with at the crash site.

10.12PM: Ukraine said it could not ensure the safety of investigators at the MH17 crash site, which is in an area under the control of pro-Russian rebels, AFP reported. "We as the Ukrainian authorities cannot provide security on this territory," Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told journalists. 

9.35PM: Missile system that shot down MH17 was handed to pro-Russian separatists from Russia, US Secretary of State John Kerry says. The evidence at the site "points a very clear finger at the separatists", he added.

8.55PM: Tears flow freely at the candlelit vigils for the victims of the MH17 crash in Kuala Lumpur. Photos: Sumisha Naidu.

8.50PM: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has delivered an impassioned speech, promising that the bodies of those killed on board flight MH17 will be brought home.

8.25PM: Rebel leaders say the black boxes have been found and will be given to international monitors, according to @AP.

8.21PM: Minutes before the crash, Air India flight AI113 - a 787 Dreamliner - heard air traffic controllers give MH17 a "direct routing", allowing it to fly straight rather than from one navigation point to another, the Times of India reports.

8.05PM: With MH370 and MH17 incidents taking place just four months apart, some flight crew in Malaysia are too shaken to fly, according to the president of the National Union of Flight Attendants.

7.50PM: In Malaysia, families of MH17 crew are struggling to come to terms with their loss. "Mummy is not coming back. Without her, this Eid will not be as happy as before."

7.13PM: "Very professional personnel is needed to find targets and fire this missile. We know that such systems can't be operated by drunken gorillas," said Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, saying it was unlikely that pro-Russian separatists shot down MH17. "It is possible that these kinds of people came from Russia."

6.55PM: The MH17 black boxes have been brought to the rebel stronghold of Dontesk, a pro-Russian separatist has claimed on Twitter, though a senior official of the Donetsk People's Republic has refused to confirm the rumour.

6.15PM: British PM David Cameron has called for Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to "do more" to give investigators access to the MH17 crash site.

6.05PM: Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine say they will only allow international monitors to safely access the MH17 crash site if Kiev agrees to a truce. Meanwhile, rail workers claim that the bodies - up to now lying untouched in the summer heat - will be moved to the rebel-held city of Torez via "refrigerated rail trains".

5:40PM: "We will never forget": Ms Kimberley Fijman, a Dutch-Australian teacher at Funtime English Club, a language school in Bangkok, sent Channel NewsAsia these pictures of her students' homemade messages for those affected by the MH17 tragedy. The students are aged between seven and nine.

4:58PM: MAS is retiring the flight number MH17 out of respect for the passengers and crew who lost their lives. It will be replaced by MH19 from Friday (July 25).



4:55PM: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Britain will seek to persuade other European leaders to impose further sanctions on Russia.

4:30PM: Separatist rebels have reportedly taken 196 bodies retrieved by workers from Ukraine's emergency services at the crash site, and have bundled them off to an unknown location. A spokeswoman told the Associated Press that they were forced to give up the bodies because "they are armed and we are not."

3:45PM: Heartbreaking sight at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam: Toys left at a makeshift shrine for the 80 children who were on MH17. There has been a steady stream of visitors and air crew leaving flowers and notes in a condolence book for the victims. 



Photos by Patrick Fok

2:33PM: How did journalists use social media to uncover evidence that an anti-aircraft missile could have brought down MH17? A blog post from verification newsroom Storyful sheds light.

2:21PM: Rebels say they will 'guarantee safety' of monitors at the MH17 crash site if Kiev agrees to a truce: AFP

"We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement" - Andrei Purgin, DPM of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic

2:07PM: Malaysia's Transport Minister is on his way to Kiev. Meanwhile, world leaders are heaping pressure on Russia to rein in the rebels suspected of bringing down MH17.


1:39PM: Prayers for MH17 victims and their families in Kuala Lumpur this morning. 

1:26PM: The Times of India is reporting that an Air India Dreamliner flight was just 90 seconds away (fewer than 25km off) from MH17 when it was allegedly struck by a missile. Its pilots were instructed by Ukranian controllers to contact MH17. 

"The message they sent was: 'Malaysian 17, this is Air India 113. How do you read?' There was, of course, no response." - Times of India

13:09PM: Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and team are headed to Ukraine tonight to meet the President, Vice President and Foreign Minister about MH17.

12:30PM: "No harassment this time": The Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) team from the OSCE said of their visit to the MH17 crash site on Saturday. They also say bodies are reportedly being photographed and filmed before being packed into body bags. 


Screengrab from CMM OSCE Facebook page

12:15PM: Malaysia Airlines reiterated that it is offering full refunds to people who wish to cancel their plane tickets in light of the MH17 tragedy. This is applicable to travel to any MH destinations for the rest of the year. Holders of MAS tickets have until Thursday to cancel or make a change without financial penalty.

12:00PM: Patrick Fok visited the Minkema College in the Netherlands, which lost three students to the MH17 crash. Here's his report

11:30AM: Some Malaysians are holding a Buddhist memorial service at a Jalan Sentul temple in Kuala Lumpur for victims of the MH17 disaster. Our reporter Pichayada Promchertchoo sent us these pictures. About 70 people are gathered so far.





10:30AM
: "The difficulty is that site is chaotic, it's absolutely chaotic," says Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott of the MH17 crash site in Ukraine. There have been reports of looting, and militiamen, some smelling of alcohol, hindering the access of OSCE monitors.

Meantime, miners have been removing bodies of the victims, many of which had been left out in an open field for two days after the crash. It was not immediately clear where the bodies were being packed off to, say AP reporters on the scene.

10:00AM: ASEAN releases a statement saying it strongly condemns the downing of MH17, and calls for a full, independent and transparent investigation.

9:15AM: The US State Department says it is deeply concerned by Russia-backed separatists' refusal to allow Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors "safe and unfettered access" to the crash site for MH17.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki calls it an "affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve."

Screengrab of the statement via our US Bureau Chief Simon Marks

Scores of people passing through Amsterdam's Schipol Airport, where MH17 had taken off, are taking the time to lay flowers, sign a tribute book for the 298 victims.

9:00AM: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert his influence on rebels hindering access to the crash site for flight MH17. The Presidents of France and Ukraine said any obstruction preventing international investigators from reaching the site will "not be tolerated".  

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