Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kiev Says Rocket Blast Downed MH17, Dutch Probe Says Info ‘Premature’
Malaysian Boeing 777 black box flight recorder.
July 28, 2014 12:42

Ukraine says analysis of the black box flight recorders from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane shows it was destroyed by shrapnel from a rocket blast. Dutch investigators, however, say they have not shared data with Kiev, calling the claim “premature.”

The Ukrainian Security Council on Monday said that passenger flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine due to “massive explosive decompression.”

The spokesman for the Council, Andrey Lysenko, told a news conference in Kiev the information came from experts analyzing the recorders from the plane that came down in territory held by anti-government forces in eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 passengers on board.

However, the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is heading the investigation into the crash, was puzzled by statements coming from Kiev. According to DSB spokeswoman Sara Vernooij, the “premature” release of details of MH17 black boxes is “not in the best interest of the investigation.”

Speaking to The Independent, Vernooij refused to confirm the claims or comment on the nature of the source used by Lysenko, saying that the board was not going to release anything until the crashed plane’s black boxes are analyzed in full.

“We want to analyze [and] combine information of several sources before we bring out anything, so we can give a coherent view on the whole investigation. Bringing out fragmented pieces of information is not on behalf of the investigation,” Vernooij was quoted as saying.

The DSB is expected to release its initial findings on the MH17 crash on August 1.

Britain was earlier tasked with downloading the data from two black boxes recovered from the crash site and handing that information over to international investigators for analysis.

The Ukrainian Security Service’s statement on the data retrieved from the black boxes of the downed Malaysia Airlines plane is “unacceptable,” as it contradicts the rules of the International Civil Aviation Association (ICAO), Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) said.

According to Rosaviatsiya’s deputy head, Oleg Storchevoy, “the Ukrainian side has violated the underlying principles of cooperation in investigating air accidents.”

Such comments are unacceptable, as they “discourage a calm, unbiased and professional investigation into the causes of the accident,” Storchevoy added.

Meanwhile, international monitors have failed to reach the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 for the second day in a row, due to clashes in the vicinity, Reuters reports citing militia leader Vladimir Antyufeyev.

The OSCE tweeted that its experts traveling with Australian and Dutch ones were forced to return to the provincial capital of Donetsk for "security reasons."

The group of police officers and international aviation experts went to the suburbs of the town of Torez on Monday to work on trying to find out what caused the Boeing 777 to crash, according to a member of the OSCE, RIA Novosti reports. There were a number of Australian and Dutch experts within the group, as well as Dutch police. The convoy had to alter their route as fighting was continuing in the town of Shakhtersk. The delegation was unable to reach the crash site on Sunday, for the exact same reason.

The mandate of the police team is to secure the area, currently controlled by anti-government forces, so that comprehensive investigations can begin and any remaining bodies can be recovered.

Kiev and anti-government forces are blaming each other for hampering the investigation.

Ukraine has accused the local militia of tampering with evidence and trying to cover up their alleged role in bringing MH17 down with an anti-aircraft missile.

Meanwhile, militia forces claim that Kiev is not interested in a fair and unbiased investigation into the downing of the Malaysian plane over Ukraine, so it is sabotaging the work of international experts.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report out Monday that at least 1,129 people have been killed from mid-April, when fighting began, and July 26. The report said at least 3,442 people had been wounded and more than 100,000 had left their homes. A UN report from mid-June put the death toll at 356.

Anti-government forces accuse Kiev of deploying artillery against residential areas. Authorities deny that charge, saying the militia forces are firing at residential areas themselves “to recruit more fighters to their cause, and to discredit the Ukrainian government.”

The UN said heavy damage to electrical, water and sewage plants and estimated the costs of rebuilding at $750 million — money the government would have to find by cutting social programs.

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