181 bodies recovered at MH17 crash site
KIEV/ MELBOURNE/THE HAGUE: Rescuers have recovered as many as 181 bodies so far at the site of the Malaysian airliner crash in eastern Ukraine, an official at Kiev’s Foreign Ministry told a briefing on Friday.
The Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was downed near the Russian border on Thursday, an area where pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting Ukrainian government forces since April. All 298 people on board of the plane were pronounced dead.
Andriy Sibiga said the bodies would probably be transported to the nearby Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is under the control of the central government.
Separatists have agreed to provide assistance to those investigating the crash of the plane and will ensure safe access for international experts visiting the site, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said.
The world AIDS community was in mourning Friday with as many as 100 passengers reportedly on a crashed Malaysia Airlines plane heading to Australia for a global conference on the epidemic.
Besides AIDS researchers, the international passengers included soccer fans, a nun and a florist.
Relatives, friends and colleagues paid tribute Friday to victims even before the airline released their names as it scrambled to contact the next of kin of the victims.
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, which US officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, was due to connect with another flight to Melbourne.
The Sydney Morning Herald said as many as 100 of those who died were delegates en route to Melbourne for the 20th International AIDS Conference, which is due to begin on Sunday.
The Australian broadsheet reported 108 attendees and family members were killed, including prominent former International AIDS Society president Joep Lange.