Interview

July 24th, 2014
11:12 AM ET

Family's Loss Shows Horror of MH17, CNN Journalists Break Down

Editor's note: CNN field producer Victoria Eastwood traveled to Eastern Ukraine to report on the devastation of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 with Chris Cuomo, co-anchor of CNN's "New Day." From there they went to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport where the flight originated. Here's a look at how the trip affected them.

By Victoria Eastwood, CNN

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July 23rd, 2014
02:21 PM ET

Mother of Two MH17 Victims Regrets Not Heeding Son's Fears

The mother of two brothers killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 told CNN she regrets not taking her youngest son's fears about the flight more seriously.

Ten-year-old Miguel Calehr died alongside his older brother Shaka, 19, when the Malaysia Airlines jet came down in Ukraine, close to the border with Russia, last Thursday.

The pair were on their way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a fun-filled holiday with their grandmother.

Their middle brother, Mika, 16, was supposed to be on the flight too, but it was fully booked, and he had to take a seat on a later plane.

Just hours before the flight was to depart for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Miguel told his mother he was nervous.

"After entering the passport [line], he came back to me and said 'Mama, I love you. I'm happy to see Oma [Grandma], but I'm going to miss you,'" Samira Calehr told CNN.

Then, she said, he asked her, "'What happens when the plane will crash?'

"I said, 'Come on, don't be silly, you've been traveling already so many times. Everything's going to be OK.'"

It was the sort of pre-flight fear many travelers will be familiar with, brushed off by a casual remark parents all over the world are used to making.

But single mom Calehr says she now wishes she'd paid more attention to his worries: "If I could just turn back time. I didn't listen to him. I don't know, I have no words to say..."

Still stunned by the tragedy which has overtaken her family, she pleads: "Why didn't they take my life? They are still young, they still have a future. Why? Why the children? Why not me?"

Samira's brother Harun told CNN his nephew Mika was being "very brave" - like his mother and grandmother.

"It comes in waves," he explained. "One minute they're completely distraught and inconsolable, and the other minute they're smiling and reminiscing and talking about the fun things that the boys did: the good things, the fun times, the memories."

Harun said the boys were good students. "They worked hard, they were honest, they were fun to be around." Above all, he said, "they were such a blessing to my sister. ... They were a joy to her, and the reason for her being."

The boys' grandmother, Yasmine Calehr, said the family was heartbroken: "Everybody is crying, everybody is losing something that belonged to them, but we feel like we have lost ourselves as well."

Harun said they were now focused on ensuring the boys' remains are repatriated to the Netherlands, where they can be given a proper farewell.

"As devastating as this process has been, we would like to have a grave, something to put into a grave... some remains or possibly the bodies intact to come home," he said.

Mika, now the only surviving son, told CNN he has lost his "best friends" but insists the bond he has with Miguel and Shaka will go on beyond the grave.

"It feels like they're already one with me now," he said. "They're my best friends, they're my brothers, and I feel like they're going to watch over me forever."

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July 22nd, 2014
10:17 AM ET

MH17: John McCain Directly Blames Russia and President Vladimir Putin

On "New Day" Tuesday, Sen. John McCain directly blamed Russia and President Vladimir Putin for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash.

The senator said it was 'impossible' Russia had no involvement.

"Now, whether it’s actually a Russian military person who pushed the button or not, they had to train these people for a period of time to make them capable of launching this system," Sen. McCain said.

"The point here is that Vladimir Putin is literally getting away with murder ... and we are doing little in response.  I think the investigation has to continue, we have to do everything we can to take care of the loved ones in the terrible tragedy that's taken place, but for us not to point the finger of blame exactly where it belongs - there's ample, overwhelming evidence.  And not only because of this particular act, but because of Vladimir Putin's continued aggression and fomenting of aggression in Ukraine."

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RELATED: Ukraine says Russian officer pushed the button to shoot down MH17

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July 21st, 2014
10:36 AM ET

Rebel Leader to Chris Cuomo: 'We Didn't Have Any Motive to Target This Plane'

CNN's Chris Cuomo is on the ground reporting from eastern Ukraine and covering all the angles of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash.

Cuomo interviewed Alex Borodai, the leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic, on "New Day" Monday.

He asked Borodai about accusations that his forces shot down the plane but the local rebel leader rejected these claims and pointed the blame back at the Ukraine.

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