By Sonali Kamboj
Black boxes of the crashed plane MH17 have been handed over to the Malaysian authorities, amid calls for a thorough investigation by the international community.
The action was taken after the UN Security Council demanded immediate access to the crash site and forced the hand of Pro – Russian separatists.
“The Malaysian team has taken custody of the black boxes, which appear to be in good condition. They will be held securely in Malaysian custody while the international investigation team is being formalized. At that time, we will pass the black boxes to the international investigation team for further analysis,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Believed to be shot down by Pro-Russian rebels last Thursday in Grabovo, Eastern Ukraine, MH17 had 298 people on board. The tragedy claimed the lives of 189 Dutch nationals, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, (including 15 crew) and 10 Britons. There were no survivors.
A freight train carrying remains of 282 victims were taken to Kharkiv, from where the bodies will be transferred to the RNLAF Eindhoven air base in Netherlands. Two planes, the Australian C-17 and Dutch C-130, will be used for transport.
Russia has come under flak from all quarters of the international community, after it was discovered that the plane was shot down using SA-11 Buk missile system.
Ukraine accused Russia of supplying the surface- to- air missiles to separatists. However, Russia has denied these allegations and instead suggests that the presence of a Ukrainian military plane in the same level just three to five kilometres away from MH17 was suspicious.
Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov, a senior member of the Russian military forces said, “Why was the military jet was flying along [the same civil aviation lines] at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane. According to the statement by the US representative, they have some pictures from space that confirm that the missiles were launched by the rebels. But nobody has seen these shots.”
He further urged the American authorities to release the images to the “world community for further investigation.”
Meanwhile, the bodies of the deceased arrived on a train at the Ukranian city of Kharklv today after rebels initially refused to let it go. They will now be flown to the Netherlands where relatives are expected to identify the bodies and give them a proper burial.
The downing of the plane has sparked international outrage with countries including the UK and US calling for sanctions against Russia which they believe is aiding the rebels in the conflict against Ukraine.