Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Flags to fly at half-mast over next three days, says Najib

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, ouside Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2014, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. Kiev sa
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak addresses a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, ouside Kuala Lumpur, on July 18, 2014, after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in eastern Ukraine. Kiev said the jet was shot down in a "terrorist" attack. -- PHOTO: AFP PHOTO 

MALAYSIA flags will fly at half-mast for the next three days as the country mourns the deaths of passengers and crew onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that came under attack by a suspected missile strike over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In a special address on national television late on Friday night, Datuk Seri Najib said the government has extended its condolences to the families and friends of victims that perished in the crash.

All 298 people on board, including 189 Dutch nationals and 43 Malaysians, were killed. "Let us be united to face this tragedy," Mr Najib said his address which was broadcast live.

Although MH17 was believed to have been shot down, Mr Najib said the government would not point fingers at any parties until it is proven to be so. "But we condemn such irresponsible and inhumane act and I will table an emergency motion at Parliament to address this issue," he said.

Mr Najib added that he had spoken to world leaders including UN Secretary-General

Ban Ki Moon and Russia President Vladimir Putin by telephone.

In a statement by the Kremlin, President Putin had offered Mr Najib his condolences and both leaders stressed the need for an objective probe into the downing of the civilian plane.

"Both sides stressed the importance of an objective international investigation into the cause of the tragedy. This would be helped by an immediate end to military operations in south-eastern Ukraine," the Kremlin said.

Mr Najib said the Malaysian government urged all parties not to tamper with evidence found in the crash site or disrupt ongoing investigations. He said despite the crash site being under Ukrainian separatists' territory, the government is using various diplomatic channels to ensure investigators and medical teams get to the site safely.

"And if indeed MH17 was shot down, we urge that justice must be swiftly served on those responsible for such act," he added.

yyennie@sph.com.sg