SYDNEY — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for "justice" over the downing of Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board when it went down in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.
Speaking at an emergency operations centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just before 3pm ET Thursday, Razak said he did not have confirmation the plane was shot down — but that it did not let off a distress call.
"Today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief," Razak said as a list of passenger nationalities was released.
"If the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice," he added. "This is a tragic day in what has already been a tragic year for Malaysia." The country is still grieving from the loss of Malaysia Flight 370 in March.
Razak also spoke about the need for international access to the crash site in war-torn Ukraine:
Malaysian officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts in Ukraine and elsewhere and I will be speaking to a number of world leaders over the coming hours. I've had several conversations with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, I have also spoken to the President of Ukraine. He has pledged that there will be a full, thorough and independent investigation and Malaysian officials will be invited to take parts. The Ukrainian President also confirmed that his Government will negotiate with rebels in the east of the country in order to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site. Just now, I received a call from President Obama. He and I both agreed that the investigation must not be hindered in any way.
The Malaysian Prime Minister told Twitter of his shock after he first heard the news of the crash, and many Twitter users offered messages of support:
I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) July 17, 2014
To our Prime Minister DS @NajibRazak be strong and calm, we can imagine how you feel now, we are with you, facing another sad moment. #MH17
— MohdSharkarShamsudin (@mohdsharkar) July 17, 2014
Stop blaming @NajibRazak for all bad things that happened to the country. If you're just trying to be funny, know this; you're not.
— Syamil Shahimi (@syamilshahimi) July 17, 2014
Let only one person be the spokesman for #MH17 and dont repeat mistakes we've done in handling #MH370 - world is watching us! @NajibRazak
— R. Sri Sanjeevan (@SanjeevanSS) July 17, 2014
We need you to stay strong dear pm, @NajibRazak . Maybe many Malaysian doesn't like you but in this case, you're not to be blamed!
— Weisley Sneijak (@AizatNuruddin) July 17, 2014
The Boeing 777 reportedly had 280 passengers and 15 crew on board. No one survived the crash.
Malaysia Airlines said there were 154 passengers from the Netherlands on board, 27 Australia, 43 Malaysia, 12 Indonesia, 9 UK, 4 Germany, 4 Belgium, 3 Philippines, 1 Canada and 41 unknown.
The death toll has been revised after it was discovered three infants were also on board.
Anyone with concerns about relatives in Australia is urged to call Department of Foreign Affairs on 1300 555 135.
Tags: AUSRTALIA, AUSTRALAINS, AUSTRALIA, MALAYSIA AIRLINES, MALAYSIA REACTION, MH17, PLANE CRASH, Ukraine, US & World, WORLD