United Nations, July 18 (IANS/EFE) The UN Security Council Friday called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation of the downing of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner with 298 people aboard in a strife-torn area of eastern Ukraine.
The emergency session began with a minute's silence in honour of the 283 passengers and 15 crew members killed Thursday.
The investigation should be conducted in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines, the council said, demanding appropriate accountability and immediate access by investigators to the crash site.
At a briefing, Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary general for political affairs, spoke of credible, numerous reports that suggest that a sophisticated surface-to-air missile was used to bring down the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in the vicinity of Donetsk, an area of eastern Ukraine under control of mainly ethnic-Russian militias opposed to the government in Kiev, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
The plane was probably hit by a missile fired from militia territory, US Ambassador Samantha Power said during Friday's Security Council session.
Both the Ukrainian and Russian militaries have missiles capable of striking a plane flying at an altitude of 10,000 metres (nearly 33,000 feet) and reports indicate that at least one of the Ukrainian army's missile batteries fell into the hands of the anti-Kiev forces.
The Ukrainian government and the militias have each accused the other of shooting down the plane.
Emergency workers have recovered 181 bodies at the crash site, Ukraine's foreign ministry said Friday, while officials in Donetsk who are loyal to Kiev accused the militias of impeding access to the scene.
Reporters who reached the site just hours after the crash Thursday said the militias were not interfering with emergency workers or the media.
Kiev charged the militias with seeking to grab the black boxes, or flight data recorders, from the wreckage and turn them over to Moscow, but Russia's foreign minister rejected that claim.
We want international experts to arrive on the crash site as soon as possible and retrieve the flight recorders in an instant, Sergei Lavrov said. Despite statements coming from Kiev, we have no plans to seize the flight recorders.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Friday that 30 of its observers had reached the crash site.
One of the observers sent a text message from the site, a spokesman at OSCE headquarters in Vienna said, while pointing out that the team did not include any aviation experts.