World leaders are demanding an international investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board over eastern Ukraine in a tragedy that could mark a pivotal moment in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the cold war.
The UN Security Council held an emergency session yesterday and called for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
Meanwhile, the horrifying human toll of the incident was writ large across a vast swathe of disputed and remote Ukrainian territory as work began to recover the remains of the passengers and crew who perished.
As the grim recovery continued, accusations were traded over who brought down the Boeing 777 as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur - pro-Russian rebels who control the area where it came down or the Ukrainian government?
US President Barack Obama said a missile fired from rebel-held territory in Ukraine downed the jet and called for a ceasefire to allow for a full investigation.
He spoke hours after Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council there was "credible evidence" that pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine were responsible.
Ukraine said the plane was out of range of its anti-aircraft systems and it fired no missiles.
Also on the plane was the step-grandmother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Siti Amirah, 83, who was travelling alone, and more than 100 Aids researchers and activists heading to a conference in Australia.
As Western leaders united in the belief that pro-Russian rebels shot down the plane with a surface-to-air missile launching system, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang conveyed the country's condolences, saying Beijing would closely follow developments.
The whereabouts of the black box flight data and voice recorders remained unclear last night, as Russian-backed rebels ruled out a ceasefire to deal with the crash crisis.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also called for a ceasefire and urged the two sides to hold peace talks as soon as possible. Putin had blamed the Ukrainian government for the tragedy, telling a meeting in Moscow it would not have happened if the Ukrainian military had not resumed its offensive against the separatists.
"Certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy," he was quoted as saying.
Former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a television interview that action was needed to "put [Vladimir] Putin on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by". German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel said Russia's responsibility was "clear".
The Washington Post, Reuters, Agence France-Presse