KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The bodies of the 11 Ukrainians who died when an Iranian missile shot down a passenger plane have arrived in Ukraine on Sunday for a farewell ceremony.
They were among the 176 people killed in the Jan. 8 catastrophe, when a Ukrainian Airlines plane heading to Kyiv was brought down shortly after takeoff from Tehran. Iran acknowledged three days later that the plane was mistakenly hit by an anti-aircraft missile.
On Sunday, the bodies were brought to Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport aboard a Ukrainian air force plane. An honor guard solemnly carried the coffins into the airport terminal, where they are to stand until the evening for mourners to pay their respects.
Nine of the Ukrainians who died were crew members on the Boeing 737-800.
Iran admitted to shooting down the plane only after officials in several Western countries said they had evidence a missile caused the catastrophe. Iran’s initial claims that engine failure brought down the plane angered Ukrainians, who also say Iran should pay compensation and should be more forthcoming about the circumstances.
“Iran should not behave like an adolescent … it needs to answer for its irresponsible actions and the deaths of people,” said Tatyana Krivonos, a mourner at the airport.
The crash occurred just hours after Iran fired missiles at a base in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed, in retaliation for U.S. drones killing Iran’s most powerful general. Iran has been widely criticized for not closing its airspace in the tense conditions.