Donetsk (Ukraine), July 22: Pro-Russian rebels have reportedly handed over the black boxes of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last Thursday to Malaysian authorities.
The prime minister of the self-proclaimed people’s republic of Donetsk, Alexandr Borodai, presented the two devices to the head of the Malaysian delegation during an official ceremony held at the seat of the separatist government Monday.
Meanwhile, all 15 members of the UN Security Council voted Monday to condemn the downing of the Malaysian jetliner and to demand that the anti-Kiev militias who control the crash site cooperate with the international investigation. Russia, which is accused of supporting the mainly ethnic-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine, approved the resolution after some modifications to the text.
Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
Reports indicated that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said that initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants. The resolution also called for a ceasefire in the vicinity of the crash site. Ukraine announced earlier Monday that the process of recovering bodies from the wreckage of the Boeing 777 was over.
Emergency workers found 282 bodies and fragments corresponding to 16 other bodies, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman said. Members of the anti-Kiev militias had been storing bodies in refrigerated train cars and the train with the victims’ remains left Monday for Kharkov, a city under the control of the Ukrainian government.
The majority of the dead were from the Netherlands and Dutch forensic experts who reached the crash site Monday inspected the bodies-laden refrigerated cars before the train set out for Kharkov. “Unfortunately, the Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation,” US President Barack Obama said Monday.
“They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage. As investigators approached, they fired their weapons into the air. These separatists are removing evidence from the crash site, all of which begs the question – what exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama said.
“Given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia and President (Vladimir) Putin, in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation,” the US leader said. In Moscow, a senior Russian military officer said a Ukrainian warplane may have been near the Malaysian jetliner in the moments prior to the crash.