Who is to blame for MH17?

2014-07-19 08:10
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Video

WATCH: Ukrainian PM accuses 'Russian-led terrorists' of attack

2014-07-18 14:51

Ukraine’s interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that “Russian-led terrorists” shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Watch. WATCH

London - To figure out why a Malaysian jetliner fell from the sky, investigators will use the wreckage of any missile found to determine where it came from and who fired it, experts said on Friday. That may be easier said than done in the middle of a war zone.

Investigators face formidable obstacles in deciphering a disaster scene spread over 20km² of contested ground in eastern Ukraine - amid a conflict in which both sides have interests that may outweigh a desire to uncover the truth.

"We are in a country that is at war, and that is in a war of communication," aviation analyst Gerard Feldzer said in Paris. "Everyone is pushing a pawn."

All 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed in Thursday's crash.

US authorities and aviation experts say the Boeing 777 was likely brought down by a ground-to-air missile, but so far there is no proof of who fired it. Ukraine and the insurgents blame each other.

The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said Washington believes the plane was likely downed by an SA-11 missile fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. She said Russia has provided SA-11s and other heavy weapons to the separatists.

The UN Security Council called on Friday for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the downing of the plane, but that is a complicated proposition.

Under international civil aviation rules, Ukraine should take the lead in investigating an airline accident on its territory.

Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, told AP that the investigation would be carried out by the interior ministry and the security services of Ukraine, who would work alongside international observers.

It was unclear what access either group would have to the crash site.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe sent a team of international monitors to the site, a swathe of smouldering wreckage and body parts near Ukraine's border with Russia, but they later reported only limited access to the wreckage.

Black boxes

European Union officials said on Friday that Ukraine has first claim on the plane's two black boxes - a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder - which could contain valuable clues about what happened in the moments before the crash.

An assistant to the insurgency's military commander said on Friday that rebels had recovered multiple devices from the wreckage and were considering what to do with them, raising fears they could be headed to Moscow. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia had no intention of getting hold of the boxes, which he said should be given to the relevant international organizations. And insurgent leader Aleksandr Borodai later contradicted his colleague and said the rebels don't have them anyway.

Defence experts said the plane was likely shot down by a missile fired from a Buk system, Soviet-era equipment that is in the arsenals of both Russia and Ukraine. There was no previous evidence of separatist rebels using such missiles, though a rebel Twitter account boasted last month about seizing a Buk system from Ukrainian forces, and AP journalists saw such a system hours before the crash on Thursday in rebel-held territory.

Feldzer, the air-accident expert, said investigators' goal would be to "find the debris of the missile in question and determine the trajectory”.

Once investigators reach the site, they should be able to discover whether the plane was hit by one or more missiles, and the size of the missile system involved.

But, he said, "that won't determine who did it", unless investigators can find a satellite photo or radar records of the missile.

Satellites

Justin Bronk, a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based military think tank, said the United States has sophisticated military satellites capable of detecting a missile launch, but might be unwilling to share its images in order to protect its secret surveillance capabilities.

"They will probably try to liaise with civilian satellite operators to see if there are any who also picked up the trail on infra-red sensors so that they can publicly release that data," he said.

The crash site is vast, and experts said rebel fighters may have removed key evidence in the chaotic hours after the disaster, as they joined emergency workers and local coal miners to comb the wreckage and recover the bodies.

Charles Heyman, editor of Armed Forces of the EU, said missile casings could help establish who had supplied the weapons that brought down the plane. But he said it was likely that the rebels - if they fired the missile - would have removed any missile-casing debris from the scene.

Heyman said the missile launcher would bear ID numbers that could establish whether it was recently supplied by Russia or came from Ukrainian forces.

But he said if rebels mistakenly targeted a commercial airliner, thinking it was a Ukrainian military plane, they may have subsequently fled and taken the missile launcher into Russia.

The Ukrainian interior ministry released video purporting to show exactly that: A truck carrying a Buk missile launcher with one of its four missiles apparently missing, rolling toward the Russian border. The ministry said the footage was captured by a police surveillance squad at dawn Friday. There was no way to independently verify that claim.

"If I was the rebel chief of staff, I'd have had it taken away, dismantled and blown up," Heyman said, "and then bury the pieces in a swamp."

- AP
Read more on:    un  |  us  |  ukraine  |  mh17
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
72 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Find out who and what South Africans were most curious about in 2014!

 
 

I love summer.24

This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem
The world's least visited destination is breathtaking!
LOL treadmill fail!
Google’s top searches of 2014

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.