Friday 27 February 2015

MH17: Ukraine fighter jets shot down close to crash site

Heather Saul

Published 23/07/2014 | 22:00

Fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier in Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo: Reuters)
Fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier in Kramatorsk, Ukraine (Photo: Reuters)
A local resident walks past debris at the site where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near Petropavlivka village in the Donetsk region. Photo: Reuter
The convoy of hearses with the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine
Pallbearers carry a coffin out of a military transport plane during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
Soldiers carry a coffin during a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Ukraine at Eindhoven military air base
King Willem Alexander (2ndL) and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (3rdL), Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (C) and officials look at the convoy of hearses with the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17
Coffins of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, are loaded into hearses on the tarmac during a national reception ceremony at Eindhoven airport
The convoy of hearses with the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, drives past King Willem Alexander (L) and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (2ndL), Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (C) and officials as it leaves Eindhoven airport
King Willem-Alexander (2nd L) and Queen Maxima (C) of the Netherlands and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (4th L) attend a national reception ceremony at Eindhoven airport
Coffins of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17

Ukraine has accused rebels of shooting down two fighter jets on Wednesday close to where the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, killing all 298 passengers on board.

A spokesman for Ukraine's military operations told Reuters the planes were hit near Savur Mogila, a burial mound in the Shaktersky region where a memorial marks ambushes by the Soviet army on occupying Nazis during World War Two.

But a separate statement from Ukraine's Security Council on Wednesday said preliminary information suggested the missiles had been fired from Russia. Moscow has not responded to the claim.

"Two of our jets were hit at an altitude of 5,200 metres. According to preliminary information, the missiles were launched from the territory of the Russian Federation," the council said.

The military jets were downed just 35 km (20 miles) from the MH17 crash site in the village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine.

The fate of the pilots and any crew remain unknown.

The separatist Donetsk People's Republic said in a statement on its website that one of the pilots was killed and another was being sought by rebel fighters.

Fighting has continued in the Donetsk region between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists after the air disaster.

Local health officials said hundreds had been killed and over one thousand wounded since hostilities started in eastern Ukraine earlier this year.

It comes as the first bodies recovered from the crash site began their long journey into the Netherlands to begin the process of identification.

The bodies are being transported to Eindhoven Airport where they will be met by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, the Prime Minister Mark Rutte and relatives at 4pm local time. Dutch government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking said the planes carried 40 coffins in all.

The  Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed today the black boxes recovered from the crash site have arrived in Britain and handed to investigators.

The AAIB said the flight recorders have been delivered to their headquarters in Farnborough, Hampshire on Wednesday, where experts will attempt to retrieve crucial data from them.

(Independent.co.uk)

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