The wreckage of airliner MH17 will start to be reassembled by Dutch investigators, after arriving at an aircraft hangar. Authorities hope this will reveal the cause of the July crash, which killed all 298 people onboard.
The wreckage of downed airliner MH17 will start to be reassembled after arriving in the Netherlands on Tuesday, December 9. Dutch crash investigators, who have taken charge of the investigation into the incident, hope the reconstruction will reveal what brought the plane down over eastern Ukraine in July, killing almost 300 people.
The Dutch Safety Board said around 50 relatives of those killed were there to greet the eight-truck convoy carrying the remains of the plane, as it arrived at the Gilze-Rijen air base.
The procession left Ukraine last week, making its way through Germany before reaching its destination in the south of the Netherlands early on Tuesday.
Family members have criticized the investigation’s slow progress, with authorities unable to immediately gain access to the crash site, leaving wreckage laying exposed to the elements for months.
As part of a special operation in November, Ukrainian emergency services collected pieces of the Boeing’s wreckage considered particularly important by Dutch authorities, to help pinpoint the cause of the accident.
Placing the blame
Ukraine, along with the West, has accused Russia of supplying pro-Russian insurgents with the surface-to-air missile that is believed to have brought down the Malaysian Airlines jet over rebel-held territory in Ukraine. The Kremlin has staunchly denied this, claiming the rocket was launched from a Ukrainian government jet.
A preliminary report said the plane was brought down “probably as a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”
Dutch crash investigators say the pieces of the plane will be photographed, scanned and categorized before being reassembled.
The head of the Board, Tjibbe Joustra, said the whole process will take several months to complete, due to the wreckage’s condition.
"There were also some parts missing. We know that they were missing, but we think that we can be more than satisfied about the amount of wreckage we have," he said.
The remnants of the 777 were handed over to crash authorities under an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) brokered deal, between Kyiv and pro-Kremlin separatists.
The plane’s debris will be off-limits to the public, although viewings will be allowed for the victims’ next of kin.
This comes as the Dutch government rejected a call from the families of those onboard MH17 to hand over its criminal investigation to the United Nations (UN) on Tuesday, after accusing them of failing to build a strong enough legal case against those responsible.
On Friday a law firm representing 20 of the victims’ relatives requested a special UN envoy be appointed to take charge of the probe.
Of the 298 people onboard the flight, 292 have so far been positively identified, leaving six victims still unknown.
Recovery work at the accident site will now shutdown over the winter period.
A final report on the cause of the accident is expected to be released in mid-2015.
an/es (AFP, Reuters)