السبت , مايو 15 2021

Dutch team heads for MH17 crash site

A Malaysian air crash investigator works at a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Grabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region on 24 July 2014. Investigation efforts at the crash site have been hampered by fighting between rebels and government forces

Dutch experts are heading to the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, officials say.

It follows an agreement between international observers and pro-Russian separatists, the Ukrainian justice ministry says.

Separately, Malaysia says it has struck a deal with the rebels to allow international police at the site.

MH17 crashed on 17 July, killing all 298 people on board. The rebels have been accused of shooting it down.

Russia has suggested the plane could have been shot down by the Ukrainian military – an allegation Ukraine denies.

Investigators have struggled to gain access to the rebel-controlled crash site, despite a truce between Ukrainian troops and separatist forces.

Fighting has continued just 60km (35 miles) away from the crash site near the town of Grabove.

Tense

Friends and family pay their respects to Liam and Frankie Davison at a tribute service at Toorak College in Mount Eliza, Melbourne, Australia, 27 July, 2014. Friends and family paid their respects at a tribute service in Melbourne for victims Liam and Frankie Davison

The Dutch authorities say the first of the 298 people killed in the MH17 disaster has been identified, without revealing any details.

A total of 227 coffins containing the remains of the victims have been sent for identification to the Netherlands, which is leading the crash investigation.

Officials say the exact number of bodies already collected will be determined only after forensic experts have completed their examination.

The atmosphere around the crash site is tense as a group of 30 Dutch forensic experts make their way there from the rebel-held city of Donetsk, says the BBC’s Tom Burridge.

Rebels have prevented journalists going to the crash site and Ukrainian government forces are said to be nearby, he adds.

A Dutch justice ministry spokesperson has told the BBC that the team’s priority is to bring back the bodies.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed in a statement on Sunday that he had reached an agreement with Ukrainian separatist leader Aleksander Borodai to allow international police access to the site in order to “provide protection for international crash investigators”.

Cows graze near wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Grabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 26, 2014. There are fears vital evidence will be lost as the scene of the crash is disturbed by separatists and locals

The column of funeral hearses drive near Nieuwegein after leaving the airbase in Eindhoven to Hilversum, The Netherlands, 26 July 2014,The victims’ remains have been taken to the Dutch town of Hilversum for identification

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Australian police officers would be deployed “as part of an unarmed, Dutch-led international humanitarian mission”, AP reports.

The use of unarmed officers removes the need for the Ukrainian parliament to approve the deployment of an international police force to the country, he added.

“Our objective is to get in, get cracking and to get out… This is a risky mission, no doubt about that,” the prime minister said.

The US says it believes rebels shot down the passenger jet with a Russian-provided SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile, probably by mistake.

Russia has frequently denied sending heavy weapons into Ukraine but rebel leaders have given conflicting accounts of whether they had control of a Buk launcher at the time the plane was downed.

In a new development, Russia says it has set up its own team of experts to investigate the plane crash, according to RIA Novosti agency.

Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy has called for the formation of “one body to be the arbiter of where we can fly” in the wake of the MH17 disaster.

Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Dunleavy says “this tragedy has taught us that despite following the guidelines and advice set out by the governing bodies, the skies above certain territories are simply not safe”.

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