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Australia declares two weeks of national mourning

July 21, 2014, 10:01 UTC+3 21 21/7
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was considering declaration of the crash in the Donetsk region a terrorist attack
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margie (R) arrive to attend Mass at St Mary's in Sydney, Australia, 20 July 2014

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (C) and his wife Margie (R) arrive to attend Mass at St Mary's in Sydney, Australia, 20 July 2014

© EPA/NIKKI SHORT

SYDNEY, July 21. /ITAR-TASS/. Australia declares national mourning for the next two weeks for the victims of the plane crash in Ukraine, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The prime minister added that Australian experts had arrived in Kiev and were waiting to leave for the crash site. The group is headed by the prime minister's special envoy, a former commander of the Australian armed forces, Angus Houston, who earlier headed the international coordination center that searched for the Malaysian Boeing, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean.

Infographics Boeing 777 crash in Ukraine Boeing 777 crash in Ukraine
Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. 280 passengers and 15 crewmembers have died. Infographics by ITAR-TASS
On July 17, Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 on Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Ukraine's Donetsk region, where fighting between Ukrainian government forces and local defenders (militia) had been continuing. All the 298 people on board died. Aboard the liner were citizens of Malaysia, the Netherlands, Australia, Indonesia, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Philippines, Canada and New Zealand. Among the victims were 28 Australians and nine people who had Australian residence permits.

Abbott said the government was considering declaration of the crash in the Donetsk region a terrorist attack. If the decision is taken, the victims' relatives will have the right for state 75,000-dollar compensation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Francois Hollande in a telephone conversation have stressed the importance of the earliest launch of a comprehensive and objective international investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) into the circumstances of the air crash in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, the Kremlin press service has reported.

The airliner is believed to have been shot down, but an investigation has yet to establish who are guilty.

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