UPDATED: MH17 black boxes arrive in Britain for analysis  


London, July 23 (IANS) The black box recorders from the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have arrived in Britain for data downloading and analysis, the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said Wednesday.

The flight recorders, commonly know as black boxes, from MH17 have been delivered by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) to the headquarters of AAIB in Farnborough, Hampshire, for downloading, Xinhua reported citing the AAIB announcement Wednesday on its Twitter feed.

The DSB also confirmed that the two black boxes have arrived in Britain, “where they are currently being read out and analysed by a team of international specialists”.

“The on-site investigation in Ukraine is currently in full swing,” said the DSB, which took over formal responsibility for the air crash investigation from Ukraine Tuesday.

“Although investigators still do not have safe access to the crash site, work to gather and analyse data from various sources is under way in both Kiev and the Netherlands,” the board tweeted.

Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Reports indicated that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.

The AAIB, a part of the British government’s Department for Transport (DfT), is responsible for the investigation of civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within Britain.

In March, it worked with British satellite company Inmarsat to provide information that helped Malaysian authorities confirm that missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 had “ended” in the southern Indian Ocean.










Donetsk/Kiev/Moscow, July 22 (IANS) A refrigerated train carrying the bodies of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash victims arrived Tuesday in the government-controlled city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine as Russia and Ukraine welcomed a UN resolution calling for an independent investigation into the horrific tragedy.

The train, with 16 representatives of the Netherlands, Malaysia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, had left the city of Donetsk, controlled by pro-Russian separatists, with 282 bodies and 87 remains of the 298 occupants of the ill-fated plane.

Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Reports indicated that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.

On Tuesday, the convoy carrying the bodies arrived at the Kharkiv-Balashovski station and was expected to be transferred to a factory complex where the bodies will be put in special containers brought from Holland, Efe reported citing Interfax-Ukraine News Agency.

Dutch prime Minister Mark Rutte said the first victims of the crash will arrive Wednesday in the Netherlands, the country worst-hit by the crash, with 193 of the dead.

The train left the town of Torez, near the crash site, late Monday but stopped for several hours at the Donetsk station, where the pro-Russian separatists handed over the black boxes to a Malaysian representative.

“We did not come here to blame anyone. Both boxes are owned by Malaysia. At first glance you can see that the (black) boxes are intact”, said the Malaysian colonel who headed his country’s delegation.

Both the rebels and the Ukrainian government have blamed each other for the downing of the passenger jetliner.

Meanwhile, both Russia and Ukraine Tuesday welcomed a UN Security Council resolution, adopted at a meeting Monday, in which the Council members condemned “in the strongest terms” the downing of flight MHI7.

The resolution “demands that the armed groups in control of the crash site and the surrounding area refrain from any actions that may compromise the integrity of the crash site, including by refraining from destroying, moving, or disturbing wreckage, equipment, debris, personal belongings, or remains, and immediately provide safe, secure, full and unrestricted access to the site and surrounding area for the appropriate investigating authorities”.

The Russia foreign ministry said that the resolution highlighted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) played a “crucial role” in a “completely independent and unbiased international investigation” and that Russia was ready to assist, the Russian foreign ministry said.

Moscow stressed that all confronting parties in Ukraine should stop fighting in the area and guarantee access to the crash site for the investigators, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors and other international organisations, Xinhua reported.

In Kiev, the Ukrainian foreign ministry, in a statement published on its website, said that Ukraine considered the result of the UN vote as unconditional support for a full, careful and independent international investigation.

Stressing that international experts should be given full access to the crash area and security guarantees during their work in Ukraine, the ministry called on the countries whose citizens were killed in the crash to consider the possibility of sending civilian police units to guard the site.

The foreign ministry emphasised that joint efforts by the international community to safeguard the crash area will allow a comprehensive and independent investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, European Union countries Tuesday called for an arms embargo on Russia over the suspicion that Moscow provided heavy weaponry to the Ukrainian separatists, according to Efe.

Western countries believe Moscow could have supplied the sophisticated surface to air missile capable of hitting a plane at a cruise altitude of 33,000 feet.

Kiev had accused the separatists of tampering with evidence during the first days after the incident, when international investigators had only limited access to the crash site near the Russian border.

Fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian forces continued Tuesday, with 13 Ukrainian troopers killed in the troubled east of the country when a bus laden with explosives went off, the Ukrainian Defence and Security National Council reported.

Five civilians were also reported killed and 16 were wounded in heavy shelling on the eastern city of Luhansk, controlled by the rebels.

The Hague (IANS): Dutch King Willem-Alexander Monday expressed his condolences and shared the grief of the relatives of the victims of the Malaysian plane crash in eastern Ukraine during a speech on national television and radio.

The king addressed the Dutch people after he and his wife Queen Maxima held a closed door meeting with relatives in Nieuwegein, a city in the province of Utrecht, Xinhua reported.

Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed Thursday afternoon in the conflict-hit Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

According to reports, the indications are that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said that initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.

The disaster cost the lives of 193 Dutch citizens from all over the country.

“We are deeply touched by the poignant personal stories,” the king said in his address.

“Their grief, their desperation, their impotence and desperation cut through the soul. We understand the frustration and share your grief. And we share the fervent desire for clarity on the cause of this disaster,” he said

“We cannot make up for the victims… This scar will continue to be felt in the length of years. The only thing we can do is listen and support. All over the country people gather to support.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also attended the meeting and gave a statement afterwards.

“There is so much sorrow,” Rutte said. “I’ve spoken to people who have lost sometimes three, sometimes four people.”

“The Netherlands feels the anger and deep sorrow,” Rutte concluded. “The whole country stands behind the relatives.”

MEANWHILE, Australia Tuesday sent a C-17 military plane to the Netherlands to bring back the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in Ukraine last Thursday.

The heavy-lift transport plane took off from its base in the Middle East and is heading for the Dutch city of Eindhoven, where the Netherlands’ second-largest airport is located, Xinhua reported.

Prime Minister Tony Abbot Tuesday announced the launch of ‘Operation Bring Them Home’, which would be headed by the country’s Air Chief Marshal (retired) Angus Houston, and involves diplomatic and emergency services personnel across continents to repatriate the bodies and investigate the crash site.

After the announcement, Abbott attended a ceremony at Parliament House to sign a condolence book for the victims of MH17.

Diplomatic representatives of countries that lost citizens on the plane also attended the ceremony and signed in the register.

Victims’ remains retrieved from the crash site have been loaded onto refrigerated trains and are bound for the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, from where the Australian plane will assist the Dutch in flying them back to the Netherlands for identification.

According to reports, 282 bodies as well as recovered body parts have been loaded onto the trains.


Kiev/Moscow, July 21 (IANS) A Ukrainian train, carrying bodies of passengers from the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight, Monday left from a station near the accident site after negotiations with the pro-Russian rebels who hold the area, even as fighting continued unabated in eastern Ukraine.

Officials said the train, transporting 280 bodies, would go to Ukraine’s Kharkiv city, but it could not be confirmed, BBC reported.

Pro-Russian separatists, who are in control of the crash site in Donetsk region, had placed the remains of the passengers of flight MH17 in refrigerated carriages at Torez station.

The train’s departure came after tough negotiations between international investigators and the separatists to allow the bodies to leave the rebel-held area.

Dutch coroners earlier Monday examined the bodies of the passengers, while Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman announced that search operations had ended at the crash site. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a ceasefire in the vicinity of the crash site, as fighting raged elsewhere.

Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Reports indicated are that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said that initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.

Meanwhile, fighting continued with dozens reportedly killed in Donetsk city during a fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops.

Explosions rocked the Donetsk city which came under heavy Ukrainian tank and artillery fire. Efe news agency quoted rebel leader Andrei Purguin as saying: “There are dozens of dead in the city, mostly civilians.”

Xinhua reported earlier Monday that at least three people were killed as heavy fighting in Donetsk between insurgents and government troops broke out Monday even as an international team comprising experts from the Netherlands, the US and Germany arrived to investigate the MH17 crash.

The UN Security Council was expected to meet later Monday to debate an Australian proposal backed by France demanding that the rebels allow free, secure access to the crash site.

Australia, which had 28 citizens on board flight MH17, has demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a parliamentary session Monday the priority was to recover the bodies of his fellow countrymen without any hinderance.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday promised to do everything to put an end to the Ukrainian conflict in a peaceful manner.

In a statement, he said that the country would do everything to move the conflict in eastern Ukraine from the current military phase to the negotiating phase, with the parties using peaceful and diplomatic means alone.

Responding to the MH17 crash, Putin reiterated Russia’s stance with regard to the current situation in Ukraine and warned that no one should use the tragedy to pursue their own political goals.

He said the mere presence of representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as representatives of the emergencies ministry of Ukraine and others, was not enough.

“We need more, we need a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), the relevant international commission,” Putin said.

“We must do everything possible to ensure their complete and guaranteed safety and provide them with the humanitarian corridors they need for their work,” he added.

On Saturday, Ukraine had accused Russia and pro-Moscow rebels of destroying evidence to cover up their guilt in the shooting down of the Malaysian plane.


Kiev (IANS): Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) do have access to the crash site of a Malaysian airliner, a representative of the mission said Sunday.

The OSCE observers were accompanied by armed guards to the town of Torez near the crash site and inspected three to four refrigerated train carriages loaded with bodies of the victims there, Xinhua quoted Michael Bochurkiv as saying.

He added that it was impossible to say accurately how many dead bodies had been found.

A Boeing 777 passenger plane of the Malaysia Airlines crashed in eastern Ukraine en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard.

An OSCE monitoring mission arrived at the scene Friday and 132 experts from Malaysia arrived in Kiev Saturday.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier that the US was “deeply concerned” by rebels’ refusal to allow monitors safe and unfettered access to the airliner crash site.

Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said the alleged denial of OSCE monitors’ entry into the site is “an element of information war against us”.

“Fourteen OSCE observers have already been working at the crash site for three days,” he said in an interview, adding there were indeed some restrictions on their movement on the first day for security reasons.

Ukrainian officials are in talks to move the loaded train from the Donetsk region to Kiev-controlled territory, the Interfax news agency quoted Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman as saying.

He also said authorities in Kiev cannot guarantee security to foreign experts working at the site since the territory is controlled by rebels.

He noted, however, Kiev is ready to help experts reach the site, as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised to take them by plane to a safe area nearest to the site.

According to Groisman, as many as 223 bodies of victims have been retrieved from the crash site.



The Hague (IANS): The Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, Saturday expressed shock at the utter disrespect being shown to Malaysian Airlines’ plane crash site near Ukraine border.

The MH17 plane crash left all 298 passengers killed, including 193 Dutch citizens.

“I am shocked by the images of totally disrespectful behaviour at the scene of the MH17 crash in Ukraine,” Xinhua quoted Rutte as saying during a press conference here.

Rutte said he was frustrated by the state of affairs at the disaster area, where research had hardly begun and pictures going around on the Internet with people there showing personal items of victims.

Dutch media Saturday reported about an unknown number of bodies of victims stacked in body bags and removed away in trucks, as illustrated by photos. The destination of the trucks remained unknown.

“It is now imperative and priority that the victims will be salvaged, it is absolutely urgent to have a rapid repatriation of Dutch victims,” Rutte added.

The messing around of insurgents “with recognizable and personal items at the scene is downright disgusting,” he said.

Rutte spoke of a “very intense phone conversation” that he had Saturday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to ensure that the investigation team could access the site, and that the Dutch bodies could be removed from the crash scene at the earliest.

“Time is getting short for Putin to show the world that he is serious about helping,” Rutte added.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said Friday that several insurgents were drunk and aggressive at the crash scene.

Russia Saturday called on Kiev and insurgents in eastern Ukraine to give experts the access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines fight MH17 to facilitate their investigation.



Kuala Lumpur / Kiev (IANS): An Indian-origin steward and some of the world’s top AIDS experts were among the 298 people killed when the Malaysian Airlines jetliner was shot down over Ukraine, authorities said Friday.

[News reports said that the Anghel family in Ajax, Ontario, said Friday their 24-year-old son, Andrei, was in medical school in Romania but was travelling to Bali on the flight for a vacation.]

The aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down in eastern Ukraine in Donetsk region, with debris strewn over a large area. The site where the aircraft fell was scorched and media reports said that dead bodies were scattered around.
An eyewitness spoke of the horror as online video shots showed debris on fire and a thick black plume of smoke rising from the crash site.
Before boarding the aircraft, Cor Pan, a Dutch national, posted a photograph of the plane on Facebook with a caption that said if the plane goes missing this is what it looked like. A number of people have commented and shared the picture.
The last glimpse of the Malaysia aircraft was also captured by Malaysian passenger Md Ali Md Salim moments before departure.
The 14-second video, which was uploaded on his Instagram account, showed other passengers stowing their luggage in the overhead compartment, the Malaysian Star reported.
In the caption of the Instagram video, the 30-year-old seemed to have expressed his jitters before flying home.
“Bismillah… #hatiadasikitgentar (In the name of God… feeling a little bit nervous)”, read the caption of the video which has now been uploaded on YouTube and Facebook.
Malaysia Airlines Friday confirmed that there were 298 people on-board flight MH17.
The identified passengers and crew comprised 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysians including 15 crew members, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four German, four Belgians, three Filipinos and one Canadian.
The nationalities of 41 passengers are yet to be determined.
Indian-origin flight steward Sanjid Singh Sandu, 41, was among the 15 Malaysian crew members.
Sandu’s parents received the news from their daughter-in-law, who is also a flight stewardess with Malaysia Airlines, at 4 a.m. Friday.
His distraught father Jijar Singh told a TV channel that “recently he swapped with a colleague for the return Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight”.
A number of AIDS experts too were onboard the flight and they were headed to Australia for a conference in Melbourne.
The International AIDS Society (IAS) in a statement said the loss of so many lives was a deep tragedy.
It is believed the former president of the International AIDS Society, Joep Lange, was among those killed. He had been involved in HIV treatment and research for more than 30 years, working for the World Health Organization.
Xinhua said the plane disappeared from radar at an altitude of 10,000 metres and then crashed near the city of Shakhtarsk.
It started descending 50 km before entering Russian airspace, and was subsequently found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine has accused pro-Russian rebels of hitting the MH17 with a Soviet-era SA-11 ground-to-air missile as it flew over Ukrainian airspace.
According to a senior US official, a radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the MH17 was shot down.
A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit, the official added.
US President Barack Obama spoke on the telephone with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon after news about the crash was received.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Friday said that the MH17 did not give a distress call before it crashed.
Najib said the flight route was declared safe by International Civil Aviation Organisation and International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated that the airspace MH17 was traversing was not subjected to restrictions, the Malaysian Star reported.
“If it is confirmed that the plane is shot down, then the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” Najib said at a press conference.
Najib also said that he had spoken to Obama and they had agreed that an international team should have full access to the crash site, and that no one was to move any debris including the black box.


INTERPOL said that they would send a team to help identify the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine.

In a press release, Interpol Friday announced that at the request of the Ukrainian authorities, they are ready to send in the team in the next two days, Xinhua reported.

Interpol will send an Incident Response Team (IRT) including Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) experts and a representative of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to provide assistance on site.

According to the statement, with the support of a 24-hour Command Centre and coordination based at the General Secretariat of the organization in Lyon, the team will also evaluate the need to deploy more experts from at least nine countries around the world to assist in the identification of the victims on the ill-fated flight.

“Interpol is uniquely placed to provide this support to each of our involved member countries, and having spoken with Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, I have assured him of our continued assistance for as long as it is required,” Interpol chief Ronald K. Noble said.