Europe

MH17 Ukraine crash: Shared sadness and sunflowers for victims

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Media captionInna Tipunova told Tom Burridge how the body of a passenger landed in her house

A roll call of those who died in the MH17 air disaster and a procession to the crash site have marked the first anniversary of the tragedy over eastern Ukraine, in which 298 people died.

Victims were remembered in a village close to where the airliner came down, and in the Netherlands and Australia.

At some memorials, relatives clutched sunflowers - a symbol of the Ukrainian field where the bodies were found.

Pro-Russian rebels are widely believed to have shot down the Malaysian plane.

Russia denies this, blaming Ukrainian government forces for the disaster in the eastern Donetsk region.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Debris from the plane was scattered for miles around eastern Ukraine
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A procession from Hrabove made its way to the site of the crash

A memorial service was held in a church in Hrabove, the village nearest the crash site, after which people processed to a newly unveiled memorial plaque to the victims.

Around 300 people attended the ceremony at the crash site.

The mourners, mainly women and children, carried flowers and icons and chanted Orthodox liturgical music. The perimeter of the procession was guarded by men in Soviet military uniforms, the Associated Press news agency reports.

In the Netherlands, which lost 193 victims, flags flew at half mast and flowers were laid at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport from where Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur took off.

About 2,000 people including Prime Minister Mark Rutte attended a service for the families in Nieuwegein, in which the names of all 298 victims were read out.

Asmaa Aljuned, the wife of co-pilot Ahmad Hakimi, spoke of the suffering of the bereaved - each "a whole different journey in its entirety. And for that my heart bleeds yet again".

She ended her tribute with the words her husband never had the chance to say: "Thanks for flying with us and have a nice day."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Flowers were laid at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands

At the scene: Anna Holligan, BBC News, Nieuwegein, Netherlands

There was no sign of white roses or carnations outside this memorial; instead the relatives came clutching sunflowers. A striking reminder that many of the bodies were found strewn in fields bursting with the vivid yellow flowers.

Two out of three of the victims were Dutch. Such was the impact of the crash, many people in this country now refer to the 17th of July as the Netherlands' 9/11.

Inside the formal events centre, LED lights were switched on, one for each of the 298 people who were on board. Their names were read out, with love and pain, by the people they left behind.

A minute's silence was held at the exact moment one year ago today that flight MH17 lost contact with air traffic control.

MH17: What do we know?

Sunflower mementoes for the families


Earlier on Friday, family and friends of the 38 Australians lost in the crash gathered for a memorial service at Parliament House in Canberra.

Wreaths and flowers were laid before a newly unveiled plaque with the names of the victims, which has been placed in the garden and set in soil that was brought back from Ukraine by an Australian police officer.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke of the "innocent people living their lives to the full... shot out of the sky in a war of aggression by one country against a smaller neighbour."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop read a message from Anthony Maslin and Marite Norris, whose three children - Evie, Mo and Otis - were killed alongside their grandfather Nick Norris.

"Our family was an innocent victim of a faraway war. They were killed by other people's anger," they said. "We try not to become involved in what we see as a devastating surge of sadness, suffering and anger in the world today."


The victims

Image copyright Various

All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines plane lost their lives after the jet crashed into a field in eastern Ukraine, close to the border with Russia.

Find out more about them here.


In Malaysia, a memorial service was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11 July - because the anniversary of the disaster comes at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is traditionally a holiday. Each victim was named and then honoured with a moment of silence.

'Politicised coverage'

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, who will attend a service in Kiev, said on Friday it was a "moral duty" to find out who was behind the downing of the plane.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Flowers were left at the Dutch embassy in Kiev

Mr Poroshenko reaffirmed his support for a UN tribunal to prosecute the suspects - something which has also been called for by the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected the idea, calling it "premature and counter-productive" and criticised what he called the "clearly politicised" coverage by Western media of the disaster.

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Media captionJeremy Pocock talks about his son Ben, and what he hopes to hear from the investigation

A final report on the cause of the crash is due to be released in October by the Dutch Safety Board. The Netherlands is leading the criminal investigation and is being assisted by Belgium, Australia and Ukraine.

The remains of at least two of the victims have still not been found.