Global outrage and shock mounted on Friday after the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over strife-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 people, including a Filipino family of three, on board.
The United States demanded an “unimpeded” international inquiry into the tragedy and rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s charge that Ukraine’s crackdown on separatist rebels stoked tensions that led to the crash.
“While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fuelled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, material and training,” the White House said in a statement.
Malacanang said the government is joining the call for a “thorough and swift inquiry” into the incident.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) identified the Filipino passengers as Irene Gunawan, 54, and her children Sherryl Shania, 20, and Darryl Dwight, 15.
In Ukraine, local emergency crew picked through horrific carnage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, placing dozens of sticks with white rags in the ground to mark where bodies lay.
The Boeing 777 came down in cornfields in the separatist-held region on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, with the United States claiming it was shot down in a missile attack.
Kiev accused pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces of committing a “terrorist act” as stunned world leaders urged a full investigation of the disaster, which could further fan the flames of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
Scores of mutilated corpses and body parts were strewn around the smoldering wreckage in the village of Grabove, near the Russian border. Shocked residents of the village said the crash felt “like an earthquake.”
Malaysia Airlines said 283 passengers and 15 crew were aboard the plane—including 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, 28 Australians and 12 Indonesians.
As many as 100 of those killed were delegates heading to Australia for a global AIDS conference, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Local rescue workers at the scene said at least one of the plane’s black boxes had been found and mediators said rebels had committed to allowing international investigators “safe access” to the site.
But President Barack Obama has warned against tampering with evidence among scattered debris, as the United States called for a prompt probe of the disaster.
The UN Security Council called an emergency session also on Friday to discuss the disaster and British Prime Minister David Cameron called a crisis meeting of top officials.
Comments attributed to a pro-Russian rebel chief suggested his men may have downed the plane by mistake, believing it to be a Ukrainian army transport aircraft.
Ukraine released recordings of what they said was an intercepted call between an insurgent commander and a Russian intelligence officer as they realized they had shot down a passenger liner.
The rebels, however, accused the Ukrainian military of shooting down the plane and Putin said Kiev bore full responsibility for the crash on its territory.
The disaster comes just months after Malaysia Airline’s Flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 with 239 on board. That plane diverted from its Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flight path and its fate remains a mystery despite a massive multinational aerial and underwater search.
“This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia,” Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters early Friday after announcing an “immediate investigation.”
In separate press statements, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. and Malacanang deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the DFA was coordinating with Ukranian and Malaysian authorities on bringing home the Filipino victims.
The Palace official added that the government is one with the world in calling for a “thorough and swift inquiry” into the incident.
Valte offered her “sincerest condolences” to the families of all the victims, “recognizing fully well the enormity of their loss.”
Charles Jose, the DFA’s spokesman, confirmed that three Filipinos were aboard the airliner, based on the information released by Malaysian and Dutch authorities.
Jose earlier said the Filipino victims’ last known addresses were in The Netherlands.
“We have to check the status of the investigation being conducted by the airlines and governments concerned,” he added.