MH17 Memorial: Australia Prepares for August 7 National Day of Mourning

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By Reissa Su | August 1, 2014 3:17 PM EST

Australia has declared August 7 a national day of mourning for the victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. A national memorial service will be held in Melbourne on the same day to coincide with the day of mourning.

REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files
Flowers and mementos left by local residents lie on wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region in this July 19, 2014 file photo.

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced the country's memorial plans as he expressed his frustrations at the failed attempts of Dutch and Australian police to enter the MH17 crash site and recover the remains still lying on the ground.

According to reports, the Ukrainian government was making efforts to "reassert its sovereignty over the whole country," but pro-Russia separatists were blocking those attempts.

Mr Abbott said the police team will not be deterred in its mission.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has expressed her fears that Russia was "actively undermining" efforts to secure the MH17 crash so multinational police teams can have safe access.

It was previously reported that up to 80 human bodies still remain in the rebel-controlled territory.

Bishop told ABC that the Ukrainian government has a "military objective" which includes taking back its territory now under the control of separatists. She said the Australian government has received support for a ceasefire and humanitarian mission from Ukraine officials.

On August 7, flags on all Australian government buildings will be flying at half-mast as a sign of a country in mourning. A public memorial service will be held at St. Patrick's cathedral in Melbourne at 10:30am. Mr Abbott said the memorial will be an interdenominational service to honour the lives of the Australian passengers who perished among the 298 people on board MH17 on July 17.

In a statement, Mr Abbott declared that all Australians are mourning the loss of 298 innocent lives on flight MH17. He said the deaths of the MH17 victims "offend our sense of justice." The prime minister once again offered his sympathies and support to the families as they go through trying times.

He chose Melbourne as the venue for the public memorial service because 16 of the Australian victims came from Victoria. He vowed that the government will get them justice and do whatever it can to recover the rest of the remains.

Mr Abbott initially asserted that the Malaysian jet was shot down by Russian-backed separatists. He had suggested that bigger countries should not interfere in the affairs of smaller ones. The prime minister said he would want the Russian President Vladimir Putin to still attend the G20 leaders meeting in Brisbane in November.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev/Files / )
Flowers and mementos left by local residents lie on wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region in this July 19, 2014 file photo.
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