World leaders demand Ukraine ceasefire to assess downed jet

US intelligence authorities say surface-to-air missile destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Video footage from the crash site of the Malaysian airliner brought down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday (July 17), which killed all 295 people aboard and sharply raising the stakes in a conflict between Kiev and pro-Moscow rebels. Video: Reuters

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 20:59

World leaders have called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine as they demanded speedy access for international investigators to the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner shot down over the country’s battlefields.

The strong words came amid contrasting images of emergency workers and off-duty coal miners fanning out across picturesque sunflower fields searching for charred pieces of wreckage from the Boeing 777.

The missile attack on the civilian plane killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations - including holidaymakers, students and a large contingent of scientists heading to an Aids conference in Australia.

US president Barack Obama called for an immediate ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia separatists. He also called for a credible investigation.

“The eyes of the world are on eastern Ukraine, and we are going to make sure that the truth is out,” he said at the White House.

US intelligence authorities said a surface-to-air missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. US ambassador Samantha Power told the UN Security Council in New York the missile was likely fired from a rebel-held area near the Russian border.

The Ukrainian government in Kiev, the separatist pro-Russia rebels they are fighting and the Russian government that Ukraine accuses of supporting the rebels all denied shooting the plane down. Moscow also denies backing the rebels.

After holding an emergency session, the UN Security Council called for “a full, thorough and independent international investigation” into the downing of the plane.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said both sides in the Ukrainian conflict should put down their weapons and hold peace talks. He has blamed Ukraine for the crash, saying Kiev was responsible for the unrest in its Russian-speaking eastern regions. But he did not accuse Ukraine of shooting the plane down and did not address the key question of whether Russia gave the rebels such a powerful missile.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry released a video purporting to show a truck carrying the Buk missile launcher it said was used to fire on the plane with one of its four missiles apparently missing. The ministry said the footage was filmed by a police surveillance squad at dawn today as the truck was heading to the city of Krasnodon towards the Russian border.

Ukraine’s state aviation service has now closed the airspace over two border regions gripped by separatist fighting - Donetsk and Luhansk - and Russian airlines suspended all flights over Ukraine.