MH17 crash: Ukraine says search operation over

| Friday, May 22, 2015 - 21:15
First Published |

MH17 crash: Ukraine says search operation over

Kiev: The operation for the search and identification of people killed in the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine’s Donetsk region is over, Ukraine officially announced.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and head of the governmental investigation commission Gennady Zubko spoke of completion of the operation on Friday after a meeting of the international investigation mission.

"Members of the commission informed about the completion of one of the mission’s phases - the search and repatriation of the bodies. As many as 297 bodies have been recovered in the operation and 295 of them have been identified. These bodies have been taken to the Netherlands," he said.

Zubco added this was the end of the search phase, but the aviation and criminal investigation would be continued.

"All the crash victims are considered to be found but it is not possible to identify all of them," TASS news agency quoted Zubko as saying.

"DNA identification tests will be over on July 1, 2015, and all fragments of bodies will be taken to the Netherlands by August 1."

More than 900 officers have been involved in 2,600 actions within the search operation. Twenty-four trucks with fragments of the plane were sent to the Netherlands for expert studies, he said.

The Boeing 777-200, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed on July 17 last year in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk Region, some 60 km from the Russian border, in the zone of combat operations between the Donetsk self-defence forces and the Ukrainian army.

All the 283 passengers - citizens of 10 states - and 15 crew members on board the aircraft died. Most of the passengers -- 196 people -- were Dutch citizens. 

According to the key theory of the crash, the plane was hit by a surface-to-air or an air-to-air missile. The Ukrainian authorities and militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) accused each other of the incident. 

On July 21, the UN Security Council called for an independent comprehensive investigation. Russia’s foreign ministry has repeatedly stressed Russia was not satisfied with the progress of the investigation.

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