Bodies of 11 Ukrainian plane victims repatriated from Iran

KYIV, Ukraine — The flag-draped coffins of the 11 Ukrainians who died in a plane mistakenly shot down by Iran during a spike in tensions with Washington arrived in Kyiv on Sunday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister Oleksiy Goncharuk and other officials attended the solemn ceremony at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport to see caskets with the remains of the downed plane’s nine Ukrainian flight crew and two passengers being removed from the aircraft.

Ukraine International Airlines staff, some in tears, stood on the tarmac clutching flowers.

The airline staff and relatives formed two lines to make a corridor through which the honor guard carried the caskets draped in the yellow-and-blue flag of Ukraine.

Some men fell to one knee to honor the victims.

The honor guard also held flags of the countries whose citizens perished in the crash.

The Kiev-bound UIA Boeing 737 crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 people on board, mostly Iranian and Canadian citizens.

The caskets were to remain for a while at the airport terminal so that relatives and members of the airline could say their last goodbyes.

The funerals are expected to be held on Monday.

The Boeing crashed shortly after Iran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Tehran admitted it had mistakenly shot down the plane several days later.

Ukraine’s leader has demanded that Iran punish those guilty for the downing of the airliner and compensate the victims.

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