Day 8 of the MH17 tragedy
- BUK batteries found in Ukraine-controlled territory
'Cockpit conversation can be heard clearly'
10.20pm: Transport Minister Liow Tiong today confirms that information from the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were not tampered with.
According to Bernama , he says the international team of investigators was in the midst of extracting the information, including the cockpit voice recorder, as well as the contents of the flight data recorder and that it would be documented.
“The black boxes have been opened and they were not tampered with. The content of the conversation in the cockpit can be heard clearly.
“Details will be reviewed by the investigation committee... we want the truth about the incident,” he tells reporters upon arrival from Amsterdam at the KL International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang today.
6.24pm: President Vladimir Putin's daughter Maria and her Dutch boyfriend, Jorrit Faasen, who is an executive with Russian energy company Gazprom, have fled their £2 million riverside flat in the Netherlands as protest anger grew over MH17.
The Daily Mirror reported that Putin's 29-year-old daughter has gone into hiding after many blamed the Kremlin for arming pro-Russian separatists with the missile that downed MH17 in eastern Ukraine.
Following the mayor of Hilversum, Pieter Broertjes, urging Maria's deportation yesterday, there were also many netizens who took to Twitter with many unkind statements asking her to leave, the British tabloid said.
Penang gov't, Anwar scrap open house plans, too
4.30pm: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announces that all state-organised Aidilfitri open house events will be cancelled in respect of the deaths of victims of MH17.
"Also cancelled are Hari Raya open house organised in my constituency, Air Putih, Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), and state development arm, Penang Development Corporation," Lim says during at a press conference.
The decision,, he explains, was made following the announcement by Cabinet yesterday to scrap its own planned event.
For the same reason, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and Seberang Jaya assemblyperson Dr Afif Bahardin also inform of the cancellation of their open house, both initially planned for July 30.
M'sian team exits crash site
4.10pm: Australia is beefing up its force in Europe to 190 federal police officers (AFP), who would be ready to enter Donetsk with an international task force to secure the crash site as soon as permission is granted.
This, according to The Australian , would be the largest deployment of AFP overseas, not since the Bali Bombing
AFP Commissioner Tony Negus says in the report that the force will, however, be led by the Dutch and only some officers will be armed.
In the same article, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says that the mission is expected to last no more than a few weeks.
4pm: The Malaysian MH17 investigation team has left the crash site on Thursday after finding what they were looking for in three days of groundwork, The Star reports.
The team took an interest in the fuselage they found on Wednesday that seemed to have holes caused by possible shrapnel. This was not seen in other wreckage, states the report.
"I believe the Malaysians have finished for now and they'll be heading back to Kiev," Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spokesperson Michael Bociurkiw tells reporters in Donetsk.
He adds that he does not know if more Malaysians would join the international team, now still scouting the grounds for further evidence.
Selangor open house axed
3.54pm: The Selangor government, too, is cancelling its Aidilfitri open house out of respect for the victims of MH17.
“The whole nation is mourning the tragedy, yet Muslims must celebrate Aidilfitri after fasting in the month of Ramadan.
“We hope the people of Selangor will celebrate Aidilfitri this year with moderation...” Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim says in a statement announcing the cancellation of the state-planned event, slated for July 28.
Kelantan team to sport MAS logo on jersey
3.06pm: Bernama reports that in a show of support for MAS following the MH17 tragedy, the Kelantan Football Association will sport the national carrier’s logo on the team’s jersey in the next season.
"For the 2015 season, the Kelantan football jersey will have the MAS logo. We will do it voluntarily at no charge," club adviser Annuar Musa tells reporters.
NST: Buk missile batteries found in Ukraine-controlled area
12.55pm: New Straits Times today claims that at least four BUK missile batteries were positioned near Donetsk in a Ukrainian government-controlled territory, citing intelligence sources.
However, the report does not state which agency or country these sources are affiliated to.
The report says this corroborates claims by former AP journalist Robert Parry that US satellite images had spotted the missile launchers manned by personnel in what appeared to be Ukrainian or similar uniforms. He too cited unnamed sources.
A single BUK missile battery typically comprises a vehicle carrying a radar system and two launch vehicles carrying four missiles each. The launch vehicles also carry a smaller radar system.
Another company bids for MH17 trademark
12.45pm: A Malaysian-owned company Remit Now International Ltd has applied to trademark 'MH17' for purposes of film, game shows, musicals, video games, music and texts, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reports.
It said the application was filed with IP Australia on July 18 and is being considered, while Malaysia Airlines has started to trademark 'MH17' and 'MH370' in Australia as well.
“The purpose is to ensure that no party takes advantage of the tragedy for their personal gain,” a MAS spokesperson reportedly told AAP .
Meanwhile, technology news website Digital News Asia (DNA) says although Remit Now applied for the trademark under an address in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, the company also has another address in Belize City and is apparently linked to Belizean company Seyefull Investments Ltd.
DNA had previously reported that Seyefull Investments is applying to trademark 'MH17' in the EU.
Terengganu open house latest to be cancelled
11.30am: Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman joins a growing list of senior officials who are cancelling their Aidilfitri open house events following the downing of MH17.
“The cancellation is made out of respect for what happened to MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last week,” says a statement from his office, Bernama reports.
The event was originally scheduled for July 28.
'Shrapnel-like' holes dot plane body
11.17am: Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spokesperson Michael Bociurkiw says his monitors have found two MH17 fuselage parts that are dotted with "shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes”, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Bociurkiw said the parts have already been examined by Malaysian aviation security officers on the scene, and is the first on-the-ground assessment of what could be clues of a missile-strike.
However, the report notes that shrapnel damage does not immediately prove allegations that a BUK missile shot down MH17, but finding actual shrapnel would open the possibility of chemical analysis to determine the weapon used.
However, this still does not answer the question who fired the missile. The BUK uses a high-explosive fragmentation warhead, which sends a cloud of speeding shrapnel to shred its target aircraft.
Negri Sembilan MB cancels Raya do
Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan says the state government has cancelled its Aidilfitri open house originally scheduled for the first day of Hari Raya, Bernama reports.
Mohamad says this is done out of respect for those who were killed in the MH17 shooting.
Yesterday, the prime minister’s open house at Sri Perdana and the national-level open house at Dataran Rembau were also cancelled, while Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin postponed this open house in Pagoh to a date that has yet to be announced.
Deal for 'Australian presence' in Ukraine inked
10.30am: Australian newspaper The Age says the Netherlands is expected to lead a multinational team to secure MH17’s 50-square-kilometre crash site, possibly including military personnel.
Other countries expected to contribute are Australia, serving in a deputy role, as well as Malaysia, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The report says Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has already signed an agreement with her Ukrainian counterpart to allow for an Australian presence in the country, and only needs Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s signature to seal the deal.
In addition, it says Australia is negotiating with Russia and the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic to ensure the safety of the personnel.
Earlier, the AFP quoted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte ( above,right ) announcing that 40 unarmed Dutch police personnel would be sent to the crash site.
Deadliest year for aviation
9.20am: With the death toll now already at 719 dead or presumed dead, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says 2014 looks to be deadliest year for commercial aviation since the 786 deaths in 2010 – breaking a three-year declining trend in airline fatalities.
Nevertheless, the International Air Transport Association gave its assurance that it is still safe to fly, with about 100,000 flights taking to the skies each day without incident.
“In 2013 more than three billion people flew and there were 210 fatalities. Regrettably, we have surpassed that number already this year. But even so, getting on an aircraft is still among the safest activities that one can do,” says Iata chief executive Tony Tyler in a statement.
Black boxes have not been tampered with
8.55am: The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has successfully downloaded data from MH17’s flight data recorder, after doing the same with the cockpit voice recorder yesterday.
The Dutch Safety Board - which is leading the investigation and enlisted AAIB’s help to extract the data – says there is no evidence of tampering with both black boxes, Reuters reports.
Previously, some world leaders have expressed concern that the data could have been manipulated as it was in the custody of pro-Russian separatists.
Body finds shows detailed area sweep needed
8.45am: International investigators found previously undiscovered pieces of MH17 and human remains at the crash site, according to the Australian broadcaster ABC News .
“For the second day in a row we did come across more human remains, not much, but it does indicate that they are there and... that a very detailed sweep of the entire area will probably be needed to make sure nothing is missed,” Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spokesperson Michael Bociurkiw is quoted saying.
As for the aircraft part, Bociurkiv said it appeared to be a piece of the fuselage with the windows still intact, and was large enough for a person to climb inside.
Meanwhile, ABC reports that the head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine said access to the site remained difficult, with pro-Russian separatists blocking access and harassing recovery workers, amongst other problems.
However, the OSCE said there had been no incidents overnight. Apart from the OSCE, Australian and Malaysian experts have also visited the crash site.
ICAO to meet airline officials next week?
8.30am: The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will be meeting with airline industry officials and air traffic controllers in Montreal next week over the MH17 incident, Reuters reports quoting two anonymous sources.
“But both sources also said it was not immediately clear what action would result from the meeting, given the agency's limited operational role. ICAO does not issue warnings about the dangers linked to conflict,” the report says.
It adds that an ICAO spokesperson said a meeting is under discussion but has not been confirmed, while the International Air Transport Association (Iata) declined to comment.
7am: Malaysian Airlines (MAS) will be hosting a multi-faith prayer session for families of the MH17 victims and invited guests at the MAS Academy Auditorium in Kelana Jaya tonight.
In a statement last night, the airlines also said it held tahlil prayers and a recital of the Yaasin in memory of the MH17’s passengers and crew yesterday.
“The prayers, which was held at Masjid Tengku Kelana Jaya Petra, Kelana Jaya, saw more than 500 Malaysia Airlines staff as well as fellow Muslims congregate to seek blessings for the souls lost in the tragic downing of MH17,” it said.
- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 with 298 people on board crashed in eastern Ukraine at around 10.15pm on July 17 (Malaysian time), near the Ukraine-Russia border. The Boeing 777-200 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and was due to arrive at 6am the next day.