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News Wrap: Air Algerie plane apparently crashed in Mali desert

July 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: An Air Algerie flight disappeared in Northern Africa today with 110 passengers and six crew on board. The plane was flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers, but it fell off radar over Mali after the pilots reported heavy rain and asked to change course. Later, the president of Mali said wreckage had been spotted in the country’s northern desert. Nearly half of the passengers were French citizens. The rest came from a dozen other nations.

JUDY WOODRUFF: European monitors found more human remains in Eastern Ukraine today where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last week, killing 298 people.

At the same time, two more planeloads of 74 coffins arrived in the Netherlands.

Rohit Kachroo of Independent Television News reports from the town where the bodies are being identified.

ROHIT KACHROO: For the victims brought here from the sunflower fields of Ukraine, the people of Hilversum do whatever seems appropriate. Sobbing breaks the silence, but the silence always returns. No one expects to become immune to the heartache here.

FATHER JULIUS DRESME, Saint Vitus Church, Hilversum: We feel connected with all the victims because of the fact we know them. It’s like your brother. It’s like your friend. It’s like the person with whom you are working.

ROHIT KACHROO: A hundred miles away, the second repatriation ceremony took place. It’s a little better rehearsed, but no less agonizing, military precision for a civilian procession, the pattern the same as yesterday, except twice as many coffins, twice as many hearses.

In a town that has lost three families, they watched as they waited for the bodies to arrive at the military base here.

WOMAN: It’s sort of — yesterday, I cried the whole afternoon, evening and now — so, I just can’t believe it. It’s unreal.

ROHIT KACHROO: But Hilversum is a focus for investigators, as well as mourners. A British detective is among them.

HOWARD WAY, Detective Inspector, Association of Chief Police Officers: I’m confident that we will identify them, but this will take — we’re talking in terms of weeks, months, and not days.

ROHIT KACHROO: Because of the state in which these remains were recovered?

HOWARD WAY: Because of the processes we have to take with human remains that have suffered such trauma, yes.

ROHIT KACHROO: Hilversum’s trauma is told by flowers, but this is now the town that this country looks for many of the answers, too.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In other developments, Dutch investigators said the initial look at the plane’s black boxes show no sign of tampering.

And in Ukraine, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced he’s resigning, after two parties withdrew from the government. The move clears the way for new parliamentary elections.

GWEN IFILL: The Iraqi Parliament elected a veteran Kurdish politician as president today, a key step toward trying to form a government. Afterward, Fouad Massoum was sworn in to the ceremonial position. His first task is picking a candidate for prime minister. It all came hours after Sunni militants attacked a military convoy near Baghdad. At least 52 prisoners and nine policemen were killed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The top European human rights court has ruled that Poland let the CIA carry out what amounted to torture on Polish soil. Two terrorism suspects were imprisoned there in secret from 2002 to 2003 under the U.S. program of renditions after the 9/11 attacks. The court ordered Poland to pay the men a total of more than $300,000. Both men are now imprisoned at Guantanamo.

GWEN IFILL: Authorities in Arizona will investigate the state’s execution process, after a lethal injection last night took nearly two hours to take effect. Joseph Rudolph Wood was a convicted killer, and the first prisoner in Arizona to receive a new two-dose lethal injection.

Associated Press reporter Astrid Galvan witnessed the execution.

ASTRID GALVAN, Associated Press: Once he was sedated, he just laid there and took several gasps. I counted probably more than 600 gasps during the nearly two hours that it took for him to die. But he was sedated, so all we heard, very occasionally, was him snoring, and that was when the doctors went and checked on him and came on the microphone and said that he was sedated.

GWEN IFILL: Wood was sentenced to death for the 1989 shooting of a father and daughter at close range. Family members of the victims said they had no problem with how the execution was handled.

JEANNE BROWN, Daughter/ sister of victims: So everybody here from what I heard said that it was excruciating. You don’t know what excruciating is. What’s excruciating is, seeing your dad lying there is a pool of blood and seeing your sister lying there is a pool of blood. That’s excruciating. This man deserved it. And I shouldn’t really call him a man. He deserved everything he had coming to him.

GWEN IFILL: Earlier this year, an Ohio prisoner took nearly half-an-hour to die by lethal injection. And Oklahoma prison officials stopped an execution in April because the drugs weren’t administered properly. The condemned man died moments later of a heart attack.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In economic news, General Motors said that it expects to spend at least $400 million to compensate those killed or injured in crashes tied to faulty ignition switches. The company released the number today in its second-quarter earnings report. It said the cost may yet rise another $200 million. The ignition switch problem has been linked to 13 deaths.

GWEN IFILL: And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost almost three points to close below 17,084; the Nasdaq fell one point to close at 4,472; and the S&P added a point, to finish just short of 1,988.