SYDNEY - Australia is observing an official day of mourning for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17. More than 30 Australian citizens and residents were among the 298 passengers and crew who died when the airliner was shot down in eastern Ukraine.
A multifaith service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne was part of a day of mourning, when the country paused to remember an atrocity perpetrated so far away.
Thirty-eight Australian citizens and residents were onboard the Boeing 777 that was shot down July 17 while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. They were doctors, teachers, a nun and young children.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said those responsible would face justice.
The governor-general, Peter Cosgrove, said the nation was united in grief.
“Today, we gather to mourn those taken from us, to honor their lives, to support those in the midst of unrelenting grief,” Cosgrove said at the service. “Today, as a nation, we demonstrate to the world how highly we value life, how we come together to look after our own, and how we afford the departed the honor and the respect that they are due.”
The search for the victims’ remains has been halted by the Dutch government because of clashes between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces.
Search continues for missing airliner
The downing of flight MH-17 came just several months after another air tragedy for the Malaysia airline. Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 disappeared March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people.
Australia announced Wednesday that a Dutch company had been chosen to carry out the underwater search for missing aircraft. The Dutch team will use two ships to search a part of the Indian Ocean stretching 60,000 square kilometers or 23,000 square miles.
An analysis of satellite data has indicated the plane crashed into remote waters west of the Australian city of Perth.