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MH17 service a sombre, uniting moment

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Members of the public are showing solidarity with friends and families of the victims of MH17 at a memorial service for the doomed flight.

People arriving at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne described the service as a sombre and uniting moment.

“It’s a sombre occasion and it means a lot,” Sydney resident Kerrie Dunn told AAP on her way into the service.

“It helps to bring the nation together and the people together.”

Mrs Dunn said she did not personally know anyone lost in the downing of the flight “but I think that it’s a global thing. You feel for everybody, and all the relatives that lost somebody on the flight.

“Those people were, I’m sure, eager to get to their homes and families and continue on with their lives, and they have been cut very short.”

Mrs Dunn said she also wanted to pay tribute to the workers who had risked their lives to recover the bodies in eastern Ukraine, and to investigate the crash site.

Wayne Kang, an international student studying in Melbourne, met other students to walk into the cathedral as a group.

He lost a loved one in the disaster.

“It’s a sense of respect, I think, and not just for the family that we lost. It’s for everyone on the plane,” Mr Kang said.

“It’s a moment we can all have, to remember this day.”

Another man who wanted only to be described only as a mourner said the downing of flight MH17 was a “despicable” act.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine says the national memorial service has shown affected families that Australia mourns with them.

“I hope those families found some comfort in today’s service and today’s national memorial, that they know all Australians stand with them and offer their prayers and support to them,” Dr Napthine told reporters at the conclusion of the Melbourne service.

“It was certainly a very emotional service.

“All Australians’ hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and we offer our prayers and support for the families.”

Dr Napthine said just as it was a time of mourning, there was also an urgent need to secure the crash site and also work to return all remains and possessions.

“We believe there needs to be a world community effort through the United Nations to secure the site, protect the site, return the possessions and remains and make sure there is a full and proper investigation,” Dr Napthine said.

The premier also said it was early days for planning a permanent memorial although there had been talk of memorials in home towns and suburbs of those lost.

That would ensure MH17 memorials were “localised and genuinely reflect the spirit of those who lost their lives”.