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Flight MH17: U.N. Calls For Inquiry And Access; Victims' Bodies Handed Over

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin votes for a U.N. Security Council draft resolution demanding full access for investigators at the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine.
Spencer Platt Getty Images
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin votes for a U.N. Security Council draft resolution demanding full access for investigators at the Malaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Addressing the tragedy that claimed nearly 300 lives last Thursday, the U.N. Security Council is calling for a complete international investigation of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, adopting a resolution that requires unrestricted access for investigators.

The measure was approved unanimously, gaining Russia's support only after a key edit.

"Russia agreed to the resolution after changes to the text which said the 'downing' of the plane, rather than the 'shooting down' of the aircraft," NPR's Jackie Northam reports.

The U.N. resolution includes a call for cooperation in both the investigation and with efforts to punish those responsible for bringing down the airliner as it flew over eastern Ukraine.

As Jackie notes, "Armed pro-Russian separatists have been in charge of the crash site since the plane exploded over Ukrainian farmland on Thursday, hampering inspectors trying to enter the area."

All 298 people who were aboard the Boeing 777 perished after it was brought down by what U.S. officials say was an anti-aircraft weapons system brought in from Russia.

The Security Council's resolution calling for a complete investigation was drafted by Australia, which lost 37 citizens in the crash.

"We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said the events that followed the crash have only worsened the initial tragedy.

"We are not only outraged at the attack itself," she said. "We are horrified and enraged by what has happened since — by the clear intention of some to obstruct an investigation into how the passengers and crew died."

This afternoon's U.N. vote came shortly after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a deal with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine to send the remains of those who were aboard the airliner to an area under the central government's control. That process has reportedly begun.

Reports that many of the bodies had been stockpiled in a train station under the militants' guard had provoked widespread outrage and condemnation, particularly from Dutch authorities. The bodies will eventually be sent to the Netherlands, where Thursday's flight originated and where more than half of its passengers were from.

As the Two-Way reported earlier today, Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the tragedy of the plane's lethal crash should "bring people together" rather than "dividing us."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

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