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By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times

LONDON — The Netherlands went into national mourning Friday over the scores of Dutch victims in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which took off from Amsterdam but never reached its destination.

More than half of the 298 people who died were Dutch. The tally reached 173 on Friday, up from the 154 identified earlier.

Flags throughout the Netherlands flew at half staff. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who rushed home from vacation to deal with the crisis, called the crash a deep tragedy for his country and demanded a full investigation.

Other European leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also pressed for a complete investigation into how the jetliner was struck by a missile Thursday over eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border.

The plane was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where many anguished relatives of passengers gathered and received confirmation of the crash. The airport is one of Europe’s busiest.

“It is an absolutely appalling, shocking, horrific incident that has taken place, and we’ve got to get to the bottom of what happened and how this happened,” Cameron said. “If, as seems possible, this was brought down, then those responsible must be held to account, and we must lose no time in doing that.”

For the Netherlands, it’s the worst aviation disaster in years involving Dutch citizens. In 1992, an El Al cargo jet slammed into an apartment building near Schiphol, killing 43 people.

AFP Photo / Dominique Faget

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