We are all deeply saddened by the downing of the Malaysia Airlines jet MH17 on the 17th of July nearby Donetsk in Ukraine, just 40km away from the Ukraine-Russia border, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The civilian plane is believed to have been shot down by a Buk surface-to-air missile and investigations are currently ongoing. As the world mourns the loss of 298 innocent victims who perished during the tragedy, our social media feeds have been swamped with news updates in regards to flight MH17, so here are 13 things you need to know:
1. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin has vowed to cooperate with outraged world leaders in seeking access to the site of the downed flight MH17 after US Secretary of State John Kerry said the missile system used to shoot down the jet was “transferred from Russia in the hands of separatists”.
2. Malaysia Airlines (MAS) will be retiring the MH17 calls sign as a mark of respect for the 298 victims of the devastating crash.
3. The MH17 crash has wiped out 20 families in one shot – two families of six were from Netherlands and Malaysia, while there were other families of five, four and three that perished. Many of those who died were children – at least 20 of them were below the age of 12.
4. Kiev has released fresh recordings of what it says are intercepted conversations between rebels organizing to hide the flight’s black boxes from international monitors. The US Embassy also confirmed this, as the authentic recordings were of an intercepted call between an insurgent commander and a Russian intelligence officer, when they realised they had shot down a passenger jet. The black boxes have been recovered, but Malaysian officials still have no access as of now.
5. On Sunday, nearly 200 bodies were loaded into refrigerated train carriages. Alexander Borodai, Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic mentioned, “We couldn’t wait any longer because of the heat and also because there are many dogs and wild animals in the zone.” The stench was described as almost unbearable.
6. Malaysia is demanding unrestricted access to the MH17 crash site and guaranteed safety for its officials as well as those of the joint investigation team. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also demanded that all human remains be allowed to be recovered, identified and repatriated, as concerns rise over evidence tampering, the fate of victims’ remains and black boxes.
7. Ukraine’s counterintelligence chief produced photographs and related evidence that three Buk M-1 anti-aircraft missile systems were moved from rebel-held territory into Russia less than 12 hours after the crash.
8. Pro-Russian separatist leader Igor Girkin came under fire from Malaysians for his remark about “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh” at the crash site of flight MH17. Girkin was quoted saying that the victims “may have already been dead before the plane took off from Amsterdam on Thursday.”
9. The rebels say they will hand over MH17’s flight recorders to the International Civil Aviation Organization but the US state department mentioned that rebels had tampered with other potential evidence. On Sunday, heavy machinery was seen moving plane debris around at the crash site and a footage shows one of the plane’s data recorders being moved. Transport Minister Liow Tiong-Lai, said he was “very concerned” that the crash site had been “severely compromised”.
10. The plane was carrying 193 Dutch nationals (including one with dual US nationality), 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and 10 Britons (including one with dual South African nationality), four Germans, four Belgians, three from the Philippines, and one each from Canada and New Zealand.
11. An Air India plane tried to contact flight MH17 when it was flying 25 kilometres away when it was downed. Apparently, Ukrainian air traffic controllers had asked the Air India pilots to establish contact with the Malaysian Airlines jet, which had stopped responding to its calls.
12. As of now, rescuers have found 251 bodies and 86 fragments of bodies at the crash site. The second round of train refrigerator carriages have arrived to take the rest of the remains away. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has prepared two C130 Hercules planes to transport the remains of the victims, if and whenever given unrestricted access.
13. Airline fraternities from around the world are united in demanding justice for flight MH17 and many Malaysians are also expressing their support for MAS regarding this incident, offering prayers, condolences and standing by the airlines during this time of hardship.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the victims who perished on board flight MH17.