3 Malaysian Investigators Given Permission To Access MH17 Crash Site, Says Liow

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Kiev, July 21 – The first Malaysian investigators to access the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash ste has been confirmed.  There has been a delay in getting international investigators, rescuers and forensic experts to the region after the Boeing 777 aircraft went down near the town of Grabovo, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. But after three days of delay, three Malaysian accredited investigators are going to be at the crash site tomorrow, Bernama reported today.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said they comprised two senior engineers and a former pilot. Liow said they are Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) senior assistant director, Captain Philip Joseph Selvaraju (a former pilot), 42, DCA senior assistant director, Mohd Naemy Fahmy Mustapa, 38, and MAS engineering and maintenance director, Azhari Mohd Dahlan, 53. According to Bernama, Azhari has 32 years of experience working in engineering while Capt Philip has 16 years in aerospace and former Royal Malaysian Air Force pilot Mohd Naemy has six years in engineering.

“Malaysia succeeded to send its investigators to the crash scene after the government negotiated with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and several separatist groups,” Liow told Malaysian journalists in Kiev today. Flight MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it went down in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday night. The Boeing 777 aircraft was carrying 298 people, comprising 283 passengers and 15 crew. The Ukrainian government has blamed pro-Russian separatists for firing the surface-to-air missile, supplied by Russia, that caused the plane to crash.

Liow was also quoted by Bernama as saying that the trio would be flown to Kharkiv, a district next to Donetsk, tonight at 8pm and they would spend the night there. At Kharkiv, several OSCE personnel will escort them in an armoured vehicle to Usim, another location before being handed over to a separatist group, he added. The Malaysians will then be led by a separatist group in an armoured vehicle into Donetsk after which another separatist group will escort them to the crash site in Torez.

“The journey by land will take five hours. Despite the escort, there is no 100% guarantee of their safety,” Liow was quoted as saying. On the repartriation of the bodies onboard MH17, Liow said Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko had pledged to expedite the process and to move all the bodies, which had been kept in a refrigerated cart train, to Kiev, Bernama reported. “But he did not give any time frame when the bodies will arrive,” Liow said.

– PHOTO BY: AFP