Malaysian Airlines MH 17: OSCE Gains Access to Crash Site; Ukrainian Rebels Claim to Have Plane’s Black Boxes

By @ibtimesau on
A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777
A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 17, 2014. The total number of dead in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines MH-17 plane in eastern Ukraine is more than 300 and includes 23 U.S. citizens, a Ukrainian interior ministry aide said. REUTERS

A fact-finding mission from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is on its way to the crash site after it was granted access to the area, OSCE said in a tweet. It has been monitoring the crisis in Ukraine, which had denied that the missiles used to hit the Malaysian Airlines jet carrying 298 passengers and crew came from the country.

"We are absolutely sure and we checked yesterday that no missiles have been taken from the Ukrainian army," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

The country's probers actually have no access to the crash area and it has called for an international investigation to determine who attacked the ill-fated Flight MH 17, the second Malaysian Airlines jet to be involved in a mishap in four months.

The area is controlled by separatist rebels who said they have recovered and hold eight of the 12 black boxes which they located at the crash site, according to Igor Girkin, the assistant to the insurgent group's military commander.

The OSCE tweet appears to confirm that the rebels have granted them access since its leaders have previously stated that specific permission is required before the investigators could video or take photos at the crash site.

On Friday, the first meeting of the committee investigating the crash was held in Ukraine, disclosed Andre Sybiga, director-general for Consular Service of the Ukraine Foreign Ministry. The probe would be headquartered in Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, located in the north-east.

Sybiga said that so far, 181 bodies from the aircraft that left Amsterdam bound for Kuala Lumpur have been found. Of the 298 people on board, 283 were passengers and 16 were crew. The bodies would be moved to Kharkiv which has facilities to identify the corpses.

The committee said it would extend assistance to relatives of the 298 on board the ill-fated flight to obtain visas so they could enter the country, while special facilities, which includes psychological support, would be set up at the Boryspil Airport for relatives of the plane crash victims.

Crisis response units have been opened at the Ukraine Embassy in Malaysia, which could be reached by phone at +603 21669552, +6016 2614707, fax +603 21664371 and email, and in The Netherlands, which could be reached by phone at +31 (70) 3626095, fax +31 (70) 3615565 and email or embukr@wxs.

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