8:35 am - Sunday November 8, 2015

Malaysia pauses in solemn homecoming for MH17 dead

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KUALA LUMPUR: 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.

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 Quran and photos of the Malaysian victims.

“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.

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