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MH17 CRASH: Safety worries for probe team as Ukraine fighting gets closer to crash site
Publication Date : 28-07-2014
The fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine is getting closer to the MH17 crash site, posing a high safety risk to the international investigation team, said the National Security Council.
Its MH17 Search and Recovery Malaysia mission head Khairil Hilmi Mokhtar said he was worried about the situation, given media reports of the escalating conflict.
“We will evaluate the conditions and see if the team can go in, but we prioritise their safety first. It is not worth sending our team into a situation of high risk,” he told reporters here Sunday.
However, Khairil Hilmi stressed the strong commitment of the Malaysian, Australian and Netherlands governments to work together to secure the crash site so the aviation investigation could be done smoothly.
He said that the international team would be gathering evidence and searching for any remains of victims that have not been flown to the Netherlands for identification and repatriation.
Khairil Hilmi said the team had already identified a few locations within the crash site that had big pieces of wreckage, adding that the smaller pieces were still spread out within a 35km radius.
He said that according to aviation investigation procedure, the team would try its best to bring out the wreckage from the crash site.
“But this is not easy and it depends on the team to decide how they want to manage the wreckage. One challenge facing investigators is the possibility that some of the wreckage have been moved or stolen,” he said.
When asked whether a safe zone had been identified to transfer the wreckage, he said the investigation had not yet reached this stage.
He stressed that at the moment, the most important achievement was to get secure access to the crash site, especially since fighting in the area had resumed.
MH17 was believed to have been shot down enroute to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam on July 17. All 298 people on board, including 283 passengers and 15 crew members, were killed in the incident.