Putrajaya hopeful early report on MH17 black boxes ready by next week

A Malaysian expert (left) examines a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during its handover from pro-Russian separatists, in Donetsk July 22, 2014. ― Reuters pic
A Malaysian expert (left) examines a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 during its handover from pro-Russian separatists, in Donetsk July 22, 2014. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — A preliminary report on the “black boxes” from Flight MH17 that could reveal vital clues on how the plane crashed and killed 298 people may be ready by next week, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai today.

He also said investigations were still ongoing at the crash site of the Malaysia Airlines plane near Donetsk, Ukraine, where data and wreckage were being recovered.

“That information from the black box is very useful to us to determine the accident and how it happened” Liow told a joint press conference with Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein here today.

Both Kiev and Moscow have denied responsibility for the downing of the passenger plane by what is believed to be a Russian-designed air defence missile over restive eastern Ukraine on July 17.

The plane’s black boxes may hold the clues on what type of missile had struck it down, the Wall Street Journal had recently quoted an aviation expert as saying.

Liow also said today that a preliminary investigation meeting headed by the Dutch and involving Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has been held.

When asked whether Malaysia would send its military personnel to the crash site to protect investigators amid the armed conflict in the eastern Ukraine area held by pro-Russia separatists, Hishammuddin said: “Not at the moment”.

The minister said the police were currently at the crash site, a decision that he said was made together with the Australian and Dutch authorities.

“If it becomes a military situation, the whole landscape will change, so let’s see how things develop from today onwards,” said the defence minister.

Hishammuddin stressed that all the remains of the Malaysian victims still in Ukraine must be retrieved.

Liow said that Malaysia would hold an interfaith memorial for the plane crash victims once the bodies arrive.

“Joseph Kurup has engaged a multi-racial council,” he said, referring to the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of unity.

The remains of the plane crash victims are still being identified in the Netherlands. 

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