International calls to secure the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 increase

The crash site of Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur) flight MH 17 with the pictured Boeing 777-2H6 ER 9M-MRD (msn 28411) in the Russian-speaking rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine remains largely unsecured. The world is calling for the crash site evidence to be properly secured.

From CNN:

“Bodies, backpacks, passports and other piles of debris lay splayed across a miles-long area in the remote area in eastern Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 came down. The crash site is massive — an international observer called it “one of the biggest crime scenes in the world right now.”

“Concern is growing that the site has not been sealed off as it should have been and that vital evidence is being tampered with. Meanwhile, armed rebels have greeted international observers with hostility.
Experts say that this crash investigation is unprecedented due to the site’s immense size and the lack of access given to investigators.”

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Malaysia MH 17 Crash Site (Google Maps)

Google Maps above: The location of the crash site in the eastern Russian-speaking (disputed) portion of the Ukraine near Donetsk.

Malaysia MH 17 Heartfelt Message

Meanwhile Malaysia Airlines today issued these two statements (and the message above) on the tragic crash of flight MH 17:

The first statement – from the Press Briefing by Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Transport:

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT

Today Malaysia Airlines have released the final list of nationalities on board flight MH 17. Each of the numbers represents a life lost, and a family in anguish. After this press conference, Malaysia Airlines will release the full passenger manifest.

Malaysia mourns the loss of all 298 passengers and crew. We feel for their families. And we promise to do all we can to ensure that the investigation is completed, and that justice is done.

ON THE INVESTIGATION:

Malaysia is deeply concerned that the crash site has not been properly secured. The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place.

Interfering with the scene of the crash risks undermining the investigation itself. Any actions that prevent us from learning the truth about what happened to MH 17 cannot be tolerated. Failure to stop such interference would be a betrayal of the lives that were lost.

Malaysia calls for all parties to protect the integrity of the crash site, and to allow the investigation to proceed. We urge all those involved to respect the families, and the nations who have lost their sons and daughters in this attack.

Yes, MH 17 has become a geopolitical issue. But we must not forget that it is a human tragedy. Days after the plane went down, the remains of 298 people lie uncovered.

Citizens of eleven nations – none of whom are involved in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine –cannot be laid to rest. Their lives were taken by violence; now violence stops them being accorded their final respect. This cannot continue.

ON DEPLOYMENT:

Earlier today, Malaysia’s special team arrived in Kiev. We ask for continued support from the Ukrainian government, and the other parties involved, as the team seeks to assist the Ukrainian authorities in recovering and identifying the remains of the passengers and crew, and with the wider investigation.

The world has a moral obligation to ensure that the remains of all victims are recovered and treated with respect. We will play our part in fulfilling this obligation. That is why, later today, I will join the Malaysian team in Kiev, where I will work with my counterpart in the Ukraine government, to support efforts to retrieve the remains, and to assist with the investigation.

I will be joined by the Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, the Malaysian investigator in charge, and the Chairman of Malaysia Airlines. The CEO of Malaysia Airlines is already in Kiev.

ON THE FLIGHT PATH:

On the matter of MH 17’s flight path, I would like to refer to recent reported comments by officials from Eurocontrol, the body which approves European flight paths under ICAO rules.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the officials stated that some 400 commercial flights, including 150 international flights crossed eastern Ukraine daily before the crash. Officials from Eurocontrol also stated that in the two days before the incident, 75 different airlines flew the same route as MH 17.

MH 17’s flight path was a busy major airway, like a highway in the sky. It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft. It flew at an altitude set, and deemed safe, by the local air traffic control. And it never strayed into restricted airspace.

The flight and its operators followed the rules. But on the ground, the rules of war were broken. In an unacceptable act of aggression, it appears that MH 17 was shot down; its passengers and crew killed by a missile.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

This outrage cannot go unpunished. Once again, Malaysia condemns this brutal act of aggression, and calls for those responsible to be found, and to face the full force of justice without delay.

The second statement from Malaysia Airlines:

Malaysia Airlines is appealing to the family members or friends of those onboard MH 17 to contact the airline. Enclosed is the MH 17 passenger manifest for reference.

In the past 45 hours, the airline together with various foreign embassies have made every effort to establish contact with the next-of-kin but is still unable to identify many more family members.

They are advised to contact Malaysia Airlines’ Family Support Centre at +603 7884 1234 (in Malaysia).

Alternatively the family or friends may call the numbers below in their respective countries:

Netherlands (Malaysia Airlines Amsterdam office) +31 20 521 62 62

Australia (Malaysia Airlines Sydney office) +61 2 9364 3526

Indonesia (Malaysia Airlines Jakarta office) +62 2 1522 9705

New Zealand (Malaysia Airlines Auckland office) +64 9 306 3930

United Kingdom (Malaysia Airlines London office) +44 20 7341 2060

Germany (Malaysia Airlines Frankfurt office) +49 69 1387 1980

Philippines (Malaysia Airlines Manila office) + 63 2 889 1863

As of July 19, 2014, 5:00 pm, the table below shows the latest number of passengers and their nationalities:

Netherlands

193 (including 1 dual Netherlands/USA citizen)

Malaysia

43 (including 15 crew & 2 infants)

Australia

27

Indonesia

12 (including 1 infant)

United Kingdom

10 (including 1 dual UK/S. Africa citizen)

Germany

4

Belgium

4

Philippines

3

Canada

1

New Zealand

1

Total

298

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines deployed a ferry flight last night mobilizing 212 personnel from various government and media bodies and its staff to Kiev and Amsterdam in a special mission for MH17. A total of 85 Malaysia Airlines’ ‘Go Team’ members have been deployed, of which five members will join Malaysia’s Special Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Smart) in the search-and-recovery mission at the crash site in the Donetsk region, while 80 other members comprising care givers and the management team will be stationed in Amsterdam to assist the family members of the passengers.

MH 5002 departed Kuala Lumpur at 9.30 pm on July 18, 2014 and arrived in Kiev at 2.58 am (local time) on July 19, 2014 with a two hour transit. The aircraft then continued its journey to Amsterdam at 4.50 am (local time) on July 19, 2014 and arrived in Schipol Amsterdam Airport at 5.30 am the same day.

The mission is also joined by Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport, the National Security Council, Special Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (Smart), Malaysia’s Department of Information, the Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Special Air Service, the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Malaysian Armed Forces, Department of Civil Aviation, Chemistry Department, Department of Islamic Advancement of Malaysia and the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team as well as participating media.

Finally, Malaysia Airlines requests the cooperation of members of the media to respect the privacy of the grieving families. The airline’s top priority remains to provide care and assistance to the families of the passengers and crew and any information with regards to their movement will not be made public.

Who are the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine? CNN takes a look at this question: CLICK HERE

Editorial Comment:

On a side note, it was fate that selected Malaysia Airlines to be the target for the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to U.S. intelligence, the rebels used recently delivered surface-to-air Russian missiles to bring down flight MH 17. Russia will have to answer for its decision to send these dangerous weapons to the Ukraine, a former part of the Soviet Union and a sovereign nation.

Why Eurocontrol was routing civilian airliners through this known war zone is something that will also have to be answered, especially after two Ukrainian aircraft were previously shot down by the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine.

Air India and Singapore Airlines aircraft were also in the area at the time of the shoot down and it was fate that selected the Malaysia Airlines flight over these two flights. Fate has not been kind to Malaysia Airlines this year.

Bottom line: The remains of the ill-fated passengers need to be returned to their grieving families.

Where not to fly? The Washington Post has published this map of dangerous areas where the FAA has advised U.S. carriers not to fly: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: James Helbock/AirlinersGallery.com. 9M-MRD arrives in Los Angeles.

Malaysia Airlines: AG Slide Show

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