Date
21 August 2017
Medical and emergency personnel from the Ukrainian rebel group work on the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines jetliner. The rebels say they have found the plane's  flight recorders. Photo: Reuters
Medical and emergency personnel from the Ukrainian rebel group work on the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines jetliner. The rebels say they have found the plane's flight recorders. Photo: Reuters

MH17 black boxes in rebel hands, officials seek access

Ukrainian militias have recovered flight recorders from the downed Malaysia Airlines jet and are keeping them at an undisclosed location, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing rebel leader Alexander Borodai.

Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the separatist Donetsk region, described the recorders as “some technical parts”.

He said they are being held for safekeeping in the capital before being handed to experts, the report said.

The recorders may prove of limited technical value to reconstruct the cause of the crash that killed all 298 people on board MH Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia’s Transport Ministry demanded the boxes be handed over to an international team involved in the probe.

However, with access to the rebel-controlled crash site limited, experts and government authorities said they don’t know the location of the black boxes.

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman said he was aware of reports attributed to Borodai but the government had no official information on the boxes’ whereabouts.

The two boxes typically kept in an aircraft rear section are usually a vital piece of any investigation into an accident because they store key data and cockpit voices that can help reconstruct the moments before a crash.

In the case of MH17, any data may prove of little value because the supposed missile strike that took out the jet will at best be recorded in milliseconds, the report said.

The July 17 downing MH17 has drawn international condemnation against Russia for its support of pro-Russian rebels, who are closely guarding the crash site and limiting access to international disaster teams and monitors.

Malaysian Transport Minister Liong Tiong Lai, who arrived in Ukraine over the weekend as part of an international investigative team, said his country is “very concerned that the sanctity of the crash site has been severely compromised”, the report said.

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