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MH17 victims finally come home Malaysia

Malaysia pauses in solemn homecoming for MH17 dead

Black-clad Malaysians observed a minute of silence and a nationwide day of mourning on Friday as the first remains of the country's 43 citizens killed in the MH17 disaster returned home.

People across the country of 28 million went silent at 10:55 am (0255 GMT), about an hour after a Malaysia Airlines jet landed with the remains of 20 people killed when MH17 was blasted from the sky by a suspected surface-to-air missile over Ukraine on July 17.

Special flight carrying remains of 20 #MH17 victims landed at KLIA at 9.54am

Malaysia's King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Prime Minister Najib Razak and dozens of other top officials were on hand for a sombre reception ceremony at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Flags flew at half-mast nationwide and various entertainment events and other festivities in the Muslim-majority country were cancelled or put on hold out of respect.

Residents of the capital Kuala Lumpur were overwhelmingly black-clad, including many Muslim women in black Islamic headscarves, as state television aired recitations from the Koran and photos of the Malaysian victims.

Helicopters to ferry remains of victims at the tarmac.

"No words can express the sense of loss in seeing the bodies return, my prayers are with the victims and families of #MH17," Najib said on his Twitter feed.

Dozens of Malaysia Airlines cabin crew and pilots in their work uniforms, some weeping, gathered near the welcoming ceremony holding Malaysian flags and white flowers to remember their lost colleagues.

- 'Life must go on' -
Shazly, 40, a flight attendant who gave only his first name, citing a company request regarding contact with the media, mourned Nur Shazana Mohamed Salleh, who joined the airline with him in the same 2004 recruitment class.

Family members of the victims of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy are in tears as they watch the MAS Special Plane (not in picture) carrying the bodies taxis on tarmac upon its arrival, at the Kompleks Bunga Raya at KLIA in Sepang August 22, 2014. 

"She was a very jovial girl. She loved her job very much. She was very close with all her friends," he said.

The hearses carrying the bodies of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy prepare to leave the Kompleks Bunga Raya at KLIA in Sepang August 22, 2014.

"Life has to go on, even though it's very difficult for us to accept what has happened to our airline. They are our friends."

Some wore T-shirts with their dead colleagues' names and the Arabic phrase for "See you in Paradise." Fifteen crew were aboard.

The hearses carrying the bodies of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy leave the Kompleks Bunga Raya at KLIA in Sepang August 22, 2014.

The first batch of remains included those of Ariza Ghazalee, 46, and her son Muhammad Afif, 18, part of a family of six wiped out in the disaster.

It was a far different homecoming than what they had planned -- the family was returning to live in Malaysia after three years abroad, and Ariza's final Facebook post had said, "Starting our new migration. Praise God."

Friday's special flight arrived from Amsterdam, where remains have been taken for identification by Dutch authorities investigating the tragedy.

Family members of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 tragedy hold each other during the arrival ceremony at Bunga Raya Complex at KLIA in Sepang August 22, 2014.

All 298 on board Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight MH17 were killed, including 193 Dutch nationals.

The West accuses Russian-backed separatists of shooting down the plane, while Moscow blames Ukraine.

A military guard conveyed the coffins and urns -- at least three people have already been cremated -- from the plane and into waiting hearses.

KOTA KINABALU: About 60 Hyatt Regency hotel staff and public threw White roses into the sea adjacent to hotel after a-minute of silence.

Some were to be put aboard other aircraft for transport to their final resting places throughout the country.

A number of prayer sessions and funerals were planned for Friday in mosques, churches and temples, reflecting Malaysia's multi-ethnic make-up.

The MH17 tragedy has compounded Malaysian grief over the troubling and still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 just four months earlier.
- Healing process -
The airline and the Malaysian government came under fire worldwide for their chaotic response to MH370, which disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The plane is believed to have inexplicably diverted to the Indian Ocean, but no trace of the jet has been found. Some angry relatives have alleged a cover-up.

Malaysia Airlines, now in a financial crisis over the double disasters, said in a statement it was "deeply saddened" by MH17, noting that Friday ends a "long and painful wait" for next of kin.

The government has said 30 Malaysians on MH17 had so far been identified. Further remains will return in coming days.

Malaysian Twitter feeds filled with sorrow as MH17-related hashtags dominated top-trending rankings.

Many expressed hope that Friday's homecoming could help Malaysia find closure from both air disasters.

Malaysia mourns as bodies of MH17 victims finally come home

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - People across Malaysia held a minute's silence and wore black on Friday as the Southeast Asian country observed a day of mourning to mark the return of the first 20 bodies among its citizens killed when a jetliner was downed last month.

Malaysian Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 crashed after apparently being struck by a missile over war-torn Ukraine on July 17, worsening a year of tragedy for the country following the baffling disappearance of another MAS flight in March.

Flags flew at half mast and newspapers daubed their front pages in black to honour the 20 victims, among 43 Malaysians who were on the flight carrying a total of 298 passengers and crew, most of them Dutch.

Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Prime Minister Najib Razak joined grieving relatives and sombre Malaysia Airlines staff at a ceremony at Kuala Lumpur International Airport to greet the special flight from Amsterdam that brought home the remains.

"Today we mourn the loss of our people. Today, we begin to bring them home," Najib said in a statement.

In the multi-ethnic country where tension between different groups and religions can run high, mourners united in grief with Muslim ethnic Malays and ethnic Chinese standing side by side and reciting prayers for the dead.

"We see Malaysians uniting for one cause today. But there is no absolute closure until the perpetrators are brought to justice," said Anthony Loke, an opposition parliamentarian.

Bodies and wreckage from MH17 were strewn across sunflower fields in the rebel-held region of Donestk for almost a week before the dead were transported to Amsterdam. Russian-backed rebels are suspected of shooting down the jetliner in the mistaken belief it was a Ukrainian military plane.

Fighting between the pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces has hampered attempts for a swift investigation and the search for more remains.

The ceremony on Friday was muted except for the plane's engines as eight men, dressed in traditional Malay attire, carried each coffin out. Hearses and helicopters lined up to transport the victims home for burial.

The loss of MH17 came just four months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 with 239 people on board. No trace of that aircraft or its passengers has been found since it went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

"It has been a tough year but life goes on and we're here to continually support each other," said an MAS air stewardess in uniform, holding a white rose.

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