The blog is done for the day. For the latest updates on the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, follow our special MH17 index.
Here's a recap of what we've learnt today:
- The fifth victim from NSW has been identified as Victor Oreshkin, from Sydney.
- Tony Abbott says he fears Russian interference at the MH17 crash site
- Experts say whoever brought down MH17 had extensive training, experts says
- 'Unknown groups', some thought to be miners, militants and fireman according to reporters at the scene, are using body bags and removing victims of the plane crash to an unknown location.
- 'We have proof' that Russia participated in missile attack, says Ukraine spy chief after releasing images of a BUK-M1 missile system purportedly being transferred back to Russia.
- Why the MH17 crash site may make sending victims home harder. Severe damage to bodies, looting and decomposition prolonged by the disorganised air crash area could mean it takes weeks before the victims are identified and returned home, according to a forensic expert.
- Singapore Airlines apologises for insensitive Facebook posts after MH17 was shot down.
- Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is en route to New York to lead Australia's campaign at the UN Security Council for an independent international investigation.
Conspiracy theories have always followed in the shadows of major tragedies, but the web seems to make all that detective work so much easier.
- A world power shot the plane down to start World War III.
- A major world power shot the plane down to distract from Gaza/the border crisis/the “World Currency Reset”/the next Snowden release/fill-in-the-blank.
- A major world power shot the plane down to cover up the man-made origins of HIV/AIDS.
- Ukraine shot the plane down to kill Vladimir Putin.
- The plane was not shot down at all.
- In fact, the plane never even took off!
- MH17 is actually MH 370.
- The Illuminati did it.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Opposition leader Bill Shorten, NSW Premier Mike Baird and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at the remembrance mass at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Sydney for a special remembrance mass, reports AAP.
"The downing of MH17 was not an innocent accident, it was the outcome of a trail of human evil," Sydney Bishop Peter Comensoli told the packed cathedral.
Bishop Comensoli delivered a powerful homily in which he referred to the "blame and buck-passing" strategy of those believed to be responsible.
"Evil will try to hide, obfuscate, deny," he told the congregation.
"But by the light of day the true picture will be seen."
Whoever fired the surface-to-air missile that brought down the Malaysia Airlines plane would have needed extensive training to execute the mission, according to military experts.
Taking down flight MH17, travelling about 965km/h at an altitude of 33,000 feet (10,060 metres), required vastly more expertise than, say, firing a shoulder-braced rocket-propelled grenade at a slow-moving helicopter.
A crew of at least four would have been needed to accurately fire the truck-mounted Russian-made SA-11 missile, also known as a Buk missile system.
"You've got to have people who are technically competent," said retired US Army Major General Stephen V. Reeves, who served as an intelligence officer in Western Europe.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten will fly out to the United States this afternoon for discussions about the MH17 disaster with leaders and officials including US Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and President Obama's national security advisers.Back to top
A well-loved young man with a selfless devotion to his church has been identified as the fifth NSW victim of the MH17 plane disaster.
The parents of Victor Oreshkin, from Sydney, had gone to the airport to meet their son on Friday morning but he never walked through the arrivals hall.
Instead they received a shattering call from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), a friend has told AAP.
Mr Oreshkin, believed to be in his 30s, had been on a five-week holiday in Europe when the MH17 flight he was on was shot down by pro-Russian separatists over Ukraine.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has backed his Queensland counterpart’s call that Russian President Vladimir Putin not be welcome at the G20 conference in Australia if he does not cooperate with investigations into the MH17 attack.
Dr Napthine also took a swipe at the United Nations during an interview with 3AW, urging them to take action.
“The United Nations needs to show some backbone for a change and actually do something to make sure that this is properly investigated and actions taken against perpetrators and those people who have assisted and helped those perpetrators,’’ Dr Napthine said.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said Mr Putin would not be welcome in his state for November's G20 summit in Brisbane unless he allowed an independent inquiry into the MH17 disaster.
The downing of MH 17 was the outcome of a trail of human evil. Rev Peter Comensoli @ St Mary's this morning.— Mark Burrows (@MarkWBurrows) July 20, 2014
The International AIDS Conference starts today in Melbourne.
World-renowned AIDS researcher Joep Lange, 60, had been flying to Melbourne to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference when MH17 was shot down during the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Organisers on Saturday confirmed the names of six delegates on the flight, with International AIDS Society president Françoise Barré-Sinoussi saying the extent of their loss was ‘‘hard to comprehend or express.’’
Also among the confirmed dead are activists Lucie van Mens and Maria Adriana de Schutter from AIDS Action Europe, along with Pim de Kuijer, a lobbyist for Stop AIDS Now and Glenn Thomas, a media advisor for the World Health Organisation.
Earlier today Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on the ABC's Insiders program that he was personally touched by the tragedy because his daughters had flown on the MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe.
"We can't let our emotions cloud our judgment but nevertheless these are wrenching times and there would hardly be an Australian who hasn't been emotionally touched by what we've seen, what we've felt over the last 48 hours or so," he said.
"You look at the faces of the dead and they're your neighbours, they're your friends, they could be your kids because let's face it, we are a people who like to travel and my own daughters flew on MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe. So this is a tragedy which touches us deeply."
Mr Abbott confirmed that he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Russia's foreign minister has still not accepted Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's request to speak to him on the telephone.
"I made crystal clear my concerns and dissatisfaction with the way this has been handled," he said.
"Russian-controlled territory, Russian-backed rebels, quite likely a Russian-supplied weapon: Russia can't wash its hands of this."Back to top
Solemn hour of remembrance at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral for those lost on MH17. pic.twitter.com/UiZwCAGkyp— Philippa McDonald (@Philippa_mc) July 20, 2014
Eryk Bagshaw reports: The Australian families of victims of the MH17 disaster may struggle to get full compensation for their loss, say legal experts.
Their cases against the airline could hinge on proving the airline was negligent in flying over the Ukrainian conflict zone.
The families of victims of airline disasters are automatically entitled to a minimum pay-out of at least $185,000 per life lost, as per the Montreal convention.
According to the convention, Malaysian Airlines is obliged to make these payments regardless of whether it is at fault.
But any compensation claims above the minimum amount come down to demonstrating negligence on the part of the airline.
Ukraine is accusing Russia of helping insurgents destroy evidence at the crash site of MH17, reports AFP.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has raised the prospect of fresh EU sanctions against Russia over the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crash, reports AAP.
In an article in The Sunday Times, Mr Cameron says unless Moscow alters course in Ukraine, the West must change its approach.
He adds that Russia must be held to account if it's proven that pro-Russian rebels shot down MH17 with a surface-to-air missile.Back to top
Lindsay Murdoch reports from Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia is worried the black box recording devices of MH17 will be tampered with to protect those who shot down the plane.
Aviation experts say the boxes, which contain cockpit and data recordings, would establish for certain where the surface-to-air missile that brought the Boeing 777 down was fired from.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a phone call to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, has urged Russia to take immediate and clear actions to reduce tensions in Ukraine. He stressed that investigators should receive full, immediate and unfettered access to the MH17 crash site.
He said that Russia should also:
- Call on pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to lay down arms
- Release all hostages
- Engage in a political dialogue toward peace with the Ukrainian government
- Halt the flow of weapons and fighters into eastern Ukraine
- Allow OSCE observers to help secure the border
Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his own daughters flew back from Europe on a MH17 flight a few months back.
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PM Abbott - there are excuses, blame-shifting, hand-washing going on. PM Abbott says decency and humanity demands remorse. #MH17— Latika Bourke (@latikambourke) July 19, 2014