MH17 black boxes found, global probe panel sought

Kiev/Moscow, Jul 18: An international commission should be organised to investigate the Malaysian plane crash in Ukraine, the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) said on Friday soon after the jetliners’ black boxes were found. “The IAC presumes that, given the complicated situation in the Boeing 777 crash site, it is necessary to form an international commission under the ICAO’s support for investigation,” Xinhua quoted an IAC statement as saying.

The crashed aircraft’s flight recorders, found from the crash site late on Thursday, should be handed over to the commission, it added. ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a global regulatory agency of the UN. IAC is a an executive group overseeing the use and management of civil aviation in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. It has 11 former Soviet republics, including Ukraine and Russia, as its members and is headquartered in Moscow.

Ukraine’s eastern militia found flight recorders of the crashed Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine late Thursday night, an official of the Ukrainian militia said on Thursday. “Black boxes have been found on the crash scene. Specialists operating on the crash scene have just told me so,” Xinhua cited the Interfax news agency as quoting Konstantin Knyrin, the head of the information centre of “the southeastern front” of the militia, as saying.

The Ukrainian ministry of emergencies said on Friday that 121 bodies were found at the crash site of the Malaysian passenger jetliner. “As many as 121 people were found dead at the crash site at 7 a.m. on Friday. Ninety-five emergency workers and 18 units of machinery are involved in the search-and-rescue operation,” the press service of the ministry said.

Andrei Purgin, first deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on Thursday the plane’s flight recorders would be handed over to Moscow for testing. “Of course, we most likely will give them to the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) to Moscow. High-level experts, who will be able to determine exactly the reason of the catastrophe, work there,” he said.

Self-defence forces of the DPR have promised to ensure access to the crash site for representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), according to a report posted on the OSCE official website Friday. The forces also said they were ready to cooperate with Ukrainian government agencies to recover bodies and probe the accident.

The report came after the meeting of the contact group, comprising senior officials of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, convened in Kiev on Thursday for a video conference with the DPR self-defence forces, “in order to agree on a number of urgent practical measures” with regard to the crash. The Boeing 777 passenger plane of the Malaysia Airlines crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, with all 298 people on board dead.

The Ukrainian authorities have closed all of the eastern Ukrainian air space since the Malaysian flight crash, Eurocontrol, a European civil organisation working for the safety of air navigation, said in a statement on Thursday.