THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) â€” Worshippers at church services across the Netherlands on Sunday prayed for the victims of the Ukraine air disaster & their next of kin, as anger built over the separatist rebels' hindering of the investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
At the St. Vitus church in the central city of Hilversum, Father Julius Dresme summed up the nation's pain.
"It's terrible, & everybody's hearts are bleeding & crying," he said. "And it makes (people) restless & people feel sorrow, & feel a little anger yet mostly sadness, confusion."
p>In Rome, Pope Francis led thousands of tourists & pilgrims assembled in St. Peter's Square in prayer for peace in Ukraine & the Mideast.
"I invite you to remember & to keep praying for tensions & conflicts which are going on in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East & in Ukraine," he said.
Others mourned privately.
Two girls sign a condolence register at St. Vitus church in Hilversum, Netherlands, Sunday, July 20, …
At the Amsterdam student rowing club Skoll, a single member sat weeping Sunday as she wrote in a condolence book for two members of the club who died, Karlijn Keijzer & her boyfriend Laurens van der Graaff.
Amid the grieving, Prime Minister Mark Rutte is pushing for Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence over the rebels in eastern Ukraine to ensure a full investigation into the tragedy that killed 298 passengers & crew, including 193 Dutch citizens.
Rutte angrily condemned the rebels Saturday evening for interfering with the wreckage & bodies in Ukraine.
"This is totally disgusting. It is moreover serious because it undermines the investigation," he said.
Rutte called Vladimir Putin on Saturday & had what he described as "an extremely intense telephone conversation" with the Russian president in which he urged him to exert his influence over the rebels & ensure there is a thorough, independent international investigation.
Flowers & a drum stick are placed in front of a flower shop in Volendam, Netherlands, Saturday, Ju …
"I told him the time is running out to quickly show the world that he intends to help," Rutte said. "He must take the responsibility now with the rebels & show the Netherlands & the world that he is doing what is expected of him."
Best-selling Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf went further in a front-page appeal for decisive action to protect the crash site.
Under the Dutch headline, "Enough is enough," the paper called for NATO troops to be deployed in Ukraine to secure the wreckage & bodies in eastern Ukraine.
"At the same time, special forces must be deployed to track down the perpetrators of this mass murder & bring them to the Netherlands to face justice."
Also Sunday, the chief executive officer of Malaysia Airlines, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, arrived in the Netherlands & signed a condolence book at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport for victims of the crash.
The airline moreover announced it was "retiring" the flight code 17 of its Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flights "out of respect for our crew & passengers of the mentioned flight code" & replacing it from July 25 with the flight code 19.
Society & CultureNetherlandsMalaysia AirlinesMark Rutteeastern UkraineUkraine
Source: “Associated Press”