Memorial vigil for airline victims to be held in Warrnambool's Anglican church

Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine signs the condolence book for the victims of MH17 yesterday.  Picture: The Age
Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine signs the condolence book for the victims of MH17 yesterday. Picture: The Age

SOUTH-WEST residents will be given the opportunity to join worldwide mourning for the loss of 298 people on Malaysian Airlines MH17 blown apart by a missile last week over Ukraine.

This afternoon  there will be a memorial vigil at Warrnambool’s Anglican Church and later in the week condolence books will be available at council offices and public libraries throughout the state and local state MPs’ offices.

Flags are flying at half mast on government buildings and RSL sub-branches as a mark of respect.

The Warrnambool office of Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine has received numerous inquiries from local residents wanting to express their condolences for the victims who included 37 Australian citizens and residents.

Dr Napthine signed a condolence book in Melbourne yesterday along with Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews for the 18 Victorian victims.

Warrnambool City mayor Michael Neoh said he expected many people would be keen to add their condolences.

“People are shocked and appalled that a civilian airliner was shot down by some sort of military group,” he said yesterday.

“We live in a peaceful country and when disasters happen people come together.

“We would expect the people on the ground around the crash scene to be respectful and sensitive to those who lost families and friends. This is an international issue.”

The vigil service in Christ Church, Henna Street will start at 4.30pm.

“All are welcome to come, light a candle, and reflect in honour of the passengers and crew killed on board flight MH17,” the Reverend Deacon Mathew Crane said.

Southern Grampians Shire mayor Albert Calvano said flags would fly at half mast in the municipality until Thursday’s  state memorial service.

He described the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner as an atrocity.

Dr Napthine called for the United Nations to show more resolve in calling for the crash scene to be made secure and have an independent investigation launched.

“That site should be secured, those bodies should be preserved and looked after, those possessions should be protected,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“This should be a site that is treated with the utmost respect and to have people treating it with disrespect really is galling and I just feel for the families concerned that they would be subjected to that sort of disrespect for their loved ones.”

He said if Russian president Vladimir Putin failed to co-operate with international efforts he should be banned from the G20 conference in Australia later this year.