• Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MH17 CRASH

Investigators reach Ukraine site

BBC Online
One of MH17's black boxes was reportedly sent to Moscow for analysis after being recovered. Photo taken from BBC
One of MH17's black boxes was reportedly sent to Moscow for analysis after being recovered. Photo taken from BBC

International investigators have arrived at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, after rebels in eastern Ukraine allowed them access.

The Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said 30 of its staff arrived by helicopter at the scene near the village of Grabovo.

The plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in rebel-held territory on Thursday.

The two sides in Ukraine's civil conflict have accused each other of shooting the jet down with a missile.

The Boeing 777 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. It fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighbouring region of Donetsk.

Latest figures released by Malaysia Airlines show the plane was carrying at least 189 Dutch nationals, 27 Australians, 44 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and nine Britons.

The dead include world-renowned Dutch researcher Joep Lange who was among a number of passengers en route to an international Aids conference in Australia.

It is the second disaster suffered by Malaysia Airlines this year. Flight MH370 disappeared en route from Malaysia to China in March and has still not been found.

The UN Security Council has begun an emergency meeting on the plane disaster in New York.

Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang July 18, 2014. Her daughter Shelisa Zaini, Shelisa's Dutch husband and their three children were on board the plane en-route to Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Reuters
Malaysian Siti Dina weeps after seeing her daughter's name on the list of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang July 18, 2014. Her daughter Shelisa Zaini, Shelisa's Dutch husband and their three children were on board the plane en-route to Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Reuters

Ahead of the meeting it called for a "full, thorough and independent investigation".

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a statement from the White House at 15:30 GMT.

Malaysia Airlines' senior vice-president Europe, Huib Gorter, said the plane involved had been in service since 1997, had a clean maintenance record and that all communications were functioning normally at the time.

He said the flight route had been declared safe by the authorities, was being used by many other airlines and was not subject to any restrictions.

'CATASTROPHE'

The OSCE's Roland Bless confirmed to Reuters that the investigators had arrived.

The OSCE said the separatists had pledged to provide "safe access" and co-operate with Ukrainian authorities.

However, separatist leader Alexander Borodai rejected international calls for a truce, as fighting continues between the rebels and Ukrainian forces.

He also denied reports that black box flight recorders of MH17 had been recovered and handed to Moscow.

People leave candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev July 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters
People leave candles and flowers at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev July 17, 2014. Photo: Reuters

The rebels have accused the Ukrainian government of downing the airliner.

But Ukraine's defence ministry said there were no Air Force jets in the area and no surface-to-air systems being used against the rebels.

US and Ukrainian officials said they believed the plane had been brought down by a missile - a Buk thought to have been used by the rebels in Ukraine before.

The separatists were said to have seized the Buk after overrunning a Ukrainian military base.

However, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema cast doubt on this, telling local media on Friday: "The military told the president after the passenger plane had been shot down that the terrorists did not possess our Buk missile systems."

Ukraine has called the disaster an "act of terrorism", blaming it on Russia who it says has been aiding the rebels in the conflict and supplying them with advanced weapons.

"The Russians are done for. This is an international crime which must be investigated by the international tribunal in The Hague," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.

Ukrainian authorities have released what they say are intercepted phone conversations that proved the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the Ukraine government for restarting military operations in the area, where it is trying to regain control from pro-Russian rebels.

"The country in whose airspace this happened bears responsibility for it," he said.

Source: Global Security
Source: Global Security

Buk surface-to-air missile system

Also known as SA-11 Gadfly (or newer SA-17 Grizzly)

Russian-made, mobile, medium range system

Weapons: Four surface-to-air missiles

Missile speed (max): Mach 3

Target altitude (max): 22,000 metres (72,000ft)

Source: Global Security

Russia has called for a "thorough and unbiased" investigation, adding that the tragedy also highlighted a need for a swift end to the Ukrainian conflict.

Published: 12:07 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

Last modified: 10:14 pm Friday, July 18, 2014

TAGS: Boeing 777 Malaysian PM Najib Razak Malaysia Airlines crash

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