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Malaysia Airlines Wreckage Site May Be Compromised, Authorities Say

Malaysian authorities fear that MH17 crash site may not be secure and evidence may be compromised.

by Liz Fields
Jul 19 2014, 5:25pm

Photo by Auckland Photo News

Malaysian authorities expressed concern on Saturday that the Malaysia Airlines wreckage site remains unsecured and vital evidence is being tampered with, which could hinder the investigation into Thursday's crash, which killed 298 people.

In the second press conference held since MH17 disappeared off radar over eastern Ukraine on July 17, Malaysian transport minister Liow Tion Lai said the scattered bodies of victims and remnants still lay uncovered in the field where the plane was brought down en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in a fiery explosion.

"The integrity of the site has been compromised, and there are indications that vital evidence has not been preserved in place," Liow said in Kuala Lumpur. "Malaysia calls for all parties to protect the integrity of the crash site and to allow investigation to proceed."

Ukraine has also accused Russia of helping militia manipulate evidence by plucking 38 bodies from the crash site and transporting them to Donetsk, a rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine.

Specialists with distinct Russian accents assisted the rebels who are also "seeking large transports to carry away plane fragments to Russia," the Ukrainian government said in a statement released Saturday.

A day earlier, Ukraine's interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk pointed the finger at “Russian-led terrorists” and called upon the international community to hold an emergency security council meeting to "stop this war."

“We ask all respective governments to participate in this investigation and to support the Ukrainian government to bring to justice all these bastards who committed this international crime,” Yatsenyuk said. “All red lines have already been crossed.”

Prominent HIV/AIDS researchers among those killed in Malaysia Airlines crash: Read more here.

The Boeing 777 was flying across Ukrainian airspace over a rebel stronghold when it was believed to have been shot down by a ground missile. The wreckage area, located near the Russia border, has been the scene of months of violence between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia separatists.

The Ukrainian, Malaysian, and US governments have all called upon Moscow to pressure pro-Russian militants into granting international investigators full and safe access to the site.

A small international delegation was admitted into a limited area of the site on Friday evening, but was hurried away on strict orders from the rebels. A gunman fired two warning shots into the air when two Ukrainian officials lingered for too long over a plane fragment, the Associated Press reported.

Liow called for Malaysian investigators at the site to be granted access to retrieve the victims' bodies on Saturday.

"Citizens of 11 nations, none of whom are involved in the complexity in Ukraine, cannot be laid to rest," Liow said. "Their lives were taken by violence. Now violence stops them being accorded their final respect."

Soon after news of the crash hit headlines, the Ukrainian Security Service (USS) released what it claims to be intercepted messages of three separate calls between pro-Russian militants seemingly admitting to shooting down a civilian plane over the town of Hrabovo.

At an emergency UN Security Council meeting, the US suggested the complicity of pro-Russian militants, saying "we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel."

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

Image via Flickr