Malaysian and Australian leaders have agreed to send searchers back to the crash site of flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. The leaders also discussed efforts to find missing flight MH370.
Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (pictured left) near Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (pictured right) said his country wants to send investigators back to the crash site in eastern Ukraine to gather further evidence.
Najib said the Malaysian government had "pretty conclusive" intelligence reports about what happened to the passenger jet, which crashed in conflict-ridden eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people on board. However he said further physical evidence must be collected so it could be proven in court that the plane was shot down.
"That's why we are very, very keen to re-enter the crash site before winter sets in. We need at least a few weeks not only to search for the body parts of victims but to assemble physical evidence," Najib said.
The plane went down while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over a part of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists. Western leaders and Ukraine's government have accused the separatists of shooting down the plane using technology supplied by Russia, something Russia has denied. Moscow has blamed Ukraine's military.
Investigators had to suspend their search of the crash site in early August after fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian soldiers came too close.
Australian and Malaysian citizens and residents were among the plane's passengers. The Netherlands, which had the largest number of citizens on board, is coordinating the crash investigation. Dutch investigators are due to release a preliminary report of their findings on Tuesday.
Search for MH370
Australia's Prime Minister Abbott also announced a further underwater search for missing flight MH370 would begin in about two weeks' time.
"The search will continue until all that is humanly possible to be done has been done to scour the probable impact site," Abbott said, adding that the new phase would use "the best available technology."
Australia is now leading the search for the jet, which left Kuala Lumpur on March 8 with 239 people on board. It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, far off its intended route. A massive sea, air and underwater search so far has not located any wreckage.
Abbott made a one-day trip to Malaysia, his first official visit since becoming Australia's prime minister in 2013, to discussthe aviation tragedies and other issues affecting the two countries.
se/hc (dpa, AP, AFP)