MALAYSIA - As winter approaches and with more than 10 separatist groups fighting, the chance to enter the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash site gets slimmer.
The separatists were making sporadic exchanges of fire in nearby areas of the crash site, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said, and preventing Dutch and Malaysian officials from entering the area to recover the fuselage of the plane.
“There are 12 to 13 separatist groups, so it is not easy for us to enter despite a ceasefire agreement.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) officials managed to recover some belongings of the victims but it is more important for us to recover the fuselage and other evidence so we can investigate further,” said Liow in reply to Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) in a supplementary question.
Abdul Azeez had asked when Malaysians would have closure of the tragedy, in which 298 passengers and crew members on board were killed.
Liow said Malaysian and Dutch officials were doing their best to negotiate with the Ukraine separatist groups to enter the crash site and recover more bodies and evidence.
He said as winter was approaching, the window of opportunity to enter the crash site was getting smaller, adding the next time officials could enter the site was only after winter, somewhere in April next year.
Liow said there was only one Malaysian, Puan Sri Siti Amirah Parawira, out of the 44 on board yet to be identified.
He said so far, 15 immediate family members of the ill-fated flight had agreed to receive compensation of US$50,000 (S$63,583.50) each from Malaysia Airlines.
He also said the entire cost for the search and repatriation had yet to be determined as the Government had only borne the logistics, accommodation and food cost of the 278 civil servants who had been sent to the Netherlands and Ukraine.
He said the repatriation cost was borne by MAS.
Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17 while flying over eastern Ukraine.