Global outrage and shock mounted Friday after the apparent shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over strife-torn eastern Ukraine with nearly 300 people on board as questions swirled as to who was behind the tragedy.
Local emergency crews picked through horrific carnage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, placing dozens of sticks with white rags in the ground to mark where bodies lay.
The Boeing 777 came down in cornfields in the separatist-held region on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board, with the United States claiming it was shot down in a missile attack.
Kiev accused pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces of committing a "terrorist act" as stunned world leaders urged a full investigation into the disaster, which could further fan the flames of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.
The United States demanded an "unimpeded" international inquiry into the tragedy and rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin´s charge that Ukraine´s crackdown on separatist rebels stoked tensions that led to the crash.
"While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fuelled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, material, and training," the White House said in a statement.
News of the crash sent European, US and Asian stock markets tumbling. Shares in Malaysia Airlines, still afflicted by the trauma and global stigma of flight MH370´s disappearance four months ago, plummeted almost 18 percent on Friday morning.
The father of one MH17 stewardess wept as he expressed the vain hope his daughter could be alive.
"We are just hoping she survived even though we know many are dead... We pray that somehow she is safe and comes home," Salleh Samsudin, 54, said of 31-year-old Nur Shazana Salleh on Malaysian television.
One devastated relative told how her sister Ninik Yuriani, 56 -- of Indonesian descent but a Dutch national -- was on her way to Jakarta to celebrate the Muslim festival Eid.
"My family is now gathered at my sister´s house in Jakarta. We´ve decided to keep this from my mother. She´s so old and weak, I don´t think she could take it," Enny Nuraheni, 54, told.