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Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Australia PM urges 'respect' for MH17 victims

Published on Jul 21, 2014 2:26 AM
 
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott demanded on Sunday that the bodies of those killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed be "treated with respect" and said he feared interference with evidence would continue. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott demanded on Sunday that the bodies of those killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed be "treated with respect" and said he feared interference with evidence would continue.

Abbott joined a growing chorus of outrage from world leaders demanding Russia's full cooperation with what is becoming a monumentally challenging investigation into the downing of MH17 while bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people from a dozen countries on board.

His comments came as Australia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution demanding that pro-Russian separatists provide "full and unfettered access" to the crash site.

Twenty-eight Australian nationals and nine residents were on the flight which is believed to have been shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, and Abbott said recovering the bodies was a priority.

He told Australia's Nine Network the crash site was being "absolutely trampled" with "bodies being put into bags and carted off to who knows where", amid reports OSCE observers had found corpses packed into a series of refrigerated train wagons miles from the site.

"We owe it to the families - all the families - to do everything in our power to respect the bodies, to find the truth and to ensure that justice is done," he said.

Abbott had earlier condemned the "absolutely chaotic" scenes of bodies rotting in the cornfields of the separatist eastern Ukraine region where the plane crashed. "The kinds of things that would normally be happening in an air crash site are not happening," he told the ABC.

Abbott said several attempts to reach the wreckage, which is strewn across a large area, were hampered by the conflict.

Australia is pushing for a full and impartial investigation into the crash, but Abbott said a key difficulty was that there was "no-one in authority in charge on the ground".

The draft resolution being circulated by Australia - that could be put to a vote as early as Monday - calls on everyone in the region to fully cooperate in an international probe of the incident, according to a copy obtained by AFP.

Abbott said Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had invited Australia to "fully participate" in the investigation, and to be part of the body recovery operation.

"My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of bodies will continue," he told ABC.

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