Washington: Shocked by the downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane over war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border, the White House today called for "a full, credible and unimpeded international investigation" into the tragic incident that killed nearly 300 people on board.
A firefighter sprays water to extinguish a fire, on July 17, 2014, amongst the wreckages of the Malaysian airliner carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Pic/AFP
"The US is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board. It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. Nearly two dozen American citizens were on board the ill-fated plane, which the US says was shot down on the Ukraine-Russia border.
"We urge all concerned Russia, the pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine to support an immediate cease-fire in order to ensure safe and unfettered access to the crash site for international investigators and in order to facilitate the recovery of remains," Earnest said. He said this incident highlights the urgency with which the US continue to urge Russia to immediately take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine and to support a sustainable cease-fire and path toward peace that the Ukrainian government has consistently put forward.
"The role of international organizations such as the UN and the OSCE in Ukraine may be particularly relevant for this effort, and we will be in touch with affected nations and our partners in these organizations in the coming hours and days to determine the best path forward," he said.
"In the meantime, it is vital that no evidence be tampered with in any way and that all potential evidence and remains at the crash site are undisturbed," Earnest said, adding that the US remains prepared to contribute immediate assistance to any international investigation, including through resources provided by the NTSB and the FBI.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday said there are no words adequate to express condolences to the families of the nearly 300 victims. "We are horrified by the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. There are no words adequate to express our condolences to the families of the nearly 300 victims," Kerry said in a late night statement. "The United States Government remains prepared to assist with a credible, international investigation any way we can, and we will continue to be in touch with all relevant partners as we seek the facts of what happened today," Kerry said.
President Barack Obama called Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands to express condolences to the people of the Netherlands for the tragic death of Dutch citizens traveling on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17.
The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down by "terrorists" over war-torn eastern Ukraine near the Russian border.