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Malaysian experts arrive in E. Ukraine’s Donetsk to look into MH17 tragedy

Published time: July 21, 2014 16:04
Edited time: July 22, 2014 13:58
Debris lies at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014. (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Debris lies at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 21, 2014. (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Malaysian aviation experts have arrived in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, to investigate the crash of the MH17 flight. Earlier local militia said they found presumed data recorders at the site and would hand them over to international investigators.

Follow Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crash in Ukraine LIVE UPDATES

"Twelve aviation experts from Malaysia have safely arrived in Donetsk," Andrey Kavtaradze, a member of the DNR Security Council, said on Monday.

The experts are to investigate the causes of the catastrophe of the MH17 flight that crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday. The self-defense forces said that they will assist them and could hand over the evidence they found at the scene – the aircraft parts looking like flight data recorders.

On Saturday, the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) Prime minister Aleksandr Boroday stated that these findings cannot be given to Kiev since they could possibly damage them to “falsify the results [of the recordings].”

The items are expected to be then passed to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) team which is bound to lead the investigation.

The Malaysian experts were to arrive to Eastern Ukraine on Sunday evening, however they were delayed in Kiev over security concerns.

On Monday, a truce in the 40 km radius zone around the Malaysian Boeing crash site has been agreed with Donetsk self-defense forces, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said. However, according to reports Kiev shelling has not ceased yet, preventing the Malaysian experts in Donetsk getting to the site.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and members of a forensic team inspect a refrigerator wagon containing the remains of victims from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez on July 21, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

Three more aviation experts from Malaysia are due to arrive at the crash site on Tuesday, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Malaysia’s Minister of Transportation.

“It is our plane and we need to find out who shot it down. We are now moving in to ensure we are part of this exercise," he was quoted by local media as saying.

Two of the investigators are from the Department of Civil Aviation - Capt Philip Joseph Selvaraju, 42 and Mohd Naemy Fahimy Mustapa, 38, while the third member is Malaysia Airlines’ engineering director Azahari Dahlan, 53.

The first international investigators arrived in Eastern Ukraine on Monday. Three members of the Dutch Disaster Victims Identification team monitored the transportation process of the victims’ corpses in the town of Torez.

The head of the team, Peter van Vliet, praised the Ukrainian recovery workers saying that they did a “hell of a job" in the middle of the crash site located in a war zone.

He added that his priority would be getting the corpses and remains of the victims transported to a location where they can be identified and then sent home. According to Kiev officials the bodies are expected to be taken to the eastern city of Kharkov.

The train with the victims has set off from the town of Torez, a witness told Reuters late on Monday.

However, Van Vliet acknowledged that a full-scale operation might not be possible in a war zone. He added that a forensic sweep of the entire area is still needed, but he was not sure if it would be possible under such conditions.

Kiev said that the recovery operation has ended and 282 bodies and 87 fragments had been found. A third of the 298 victims of the crash were from the Netherlands.

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