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Ukraine Plane Crash

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston to Lead Australia's MH17 Response

Retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston has been appointed the Australian prime minister's special envoy and will lead the nation's efforts in Ukraine to help "recover, identify, and repatriate" Australians killed in the MH17 crash. "The first priority will be to recover the remains of the victims and to secure safe and sustained access to the MH17 site," said Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center in a statement.

"The recovery, identification and repatriation process will be complex and will likely take a number of weeks to complete. This will be a difficult and painful period, and the families of the victims will have the government's full support," it said.

At least 27 Australian passengers were among the 298 people on the Malaysian Airlines Flight, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Western countries have widely blamed the downing on separatist rebels. Earlier this year, Houston led the Perth-based JACC in the search efforts for missing Malaysian Airline's Flight 370, which disappeared March 8 with 239 people aboard.

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- Ryan Creed