KHARKIV, Ukraine — Forensic experts have started identifying the victims of Malaysian Flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine. The plane crashed into a rebel-controlled area of the country on July 17, killing all 298 passengers.
The remains were sent from Kharkiv to Eindhoven, Netherlands for investigation. However, Dutch officials report that only 200 bodies have arrived, not the 282 they were expecting. Jain Tuinder, the head of the Dutch forensics team, stressed that they “will not leave until every remain has left this country, so we will have to go on and bargain again.” From this location, the bodies will be transported to a facility in the Dutch city of Hilversum for the identification process, which Dutch officials report may take months.
Presently, there is still speculation as to who is responsible for the crash. Western nations suggest growing suspicion that pro-Russia rebels are to blame, while Russia is adamant that the Ukrainian government should be held responsible.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed confidence that Russian rebels are responsible for the crash, partially due to evidence of the missile. It was an SA-11 surface-to-air missile, which was first built by the Soviet Union.
The United Nations Security Council approved an international investigation of the crash. The resolution, which was unanimously passed, calls for the cease of all military activity around the site of the crash to allow for full access to investigators.
Obama, in alignment with the U.N. Resolution, called upon Russia to stop pro-Russia separatists from intruding on the crash site. The President stressed, “Families deserve to be able to lay their loved ones to rest with dignity.” Investigators are hopeful that after the identification process, families will be able to do so.
Malaysian Minister of Transport, Liow Tiong Lai urged, “Malaysia is very concerned that the sanctity of the crash site has been severely compromised.” Rebels were denying investigators access to the site on Sunday, July 20.
The separatists that withheld the black boxes from the MH17 plane handed them over to Malaysian investigators. They are en route to a laboratory in the United Kingdom. Upon arrival there will be further investigation. The particular technology needed to listen to recordings on the cockpit voice recorder exist only in Britain and France, so the investigation will take place under the British Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
European Union foreign ministers recently reported the imposition of more sanctions against Russia, due to suspicion of the government’s supporting separatist rebels. However, Moscow continues to deny these allegations. These sanctions will be added to those made by the EU and the US following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine.
The relationship between the Russian government and separatists, as well as the cause of the crash, remains unknown. However, investigators are hopeful that after a thorough analysis of evidence, the international community, as well as the victims’ loved ones, will have answers.
– Cambria Arvizo