MH17 investigators have less than a month to gather evidence: Tranport minister

KAJANG - Investigators of the MH17 tragedy have less than a month from now to enter the crash site and gather evidence on the ill-fated plane, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said winter would arrive end of next month in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine - where the Malaysia Airlines aircraft was shot at and crashed, killing 298 people.

"The probe team must be able to gain access into the site before all evidence is covered by snow," he added.

He said the team was currently stranded due to the continuous fighting between the Ukraine government and the separatists.

"We are working hard and making efforts to persuade both parties to follow the ceasefire treaty (signed by them)," he added.

Liow also called on the United Nations to uphold a resolution adopted by its Security Council two months ago to demand that the armed groups allow unfettered access to the crash site and ensure that its integrity was maintained.

Speaking to reporters after attending the Double Ninth Festival celebration at Nirvana Memorial Garden in Semenyih yesterday, Liow called on Chinese guilds and associations to instil new elements into this traditional festival to attract young people to commemorate the event, which is not widely celebrated in Malaysia.

The Double Ninth Festival, which has a history of more than 2,000 years, falls on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Lunar Calendar, which will be on Thursday.

According to folklore, a man named Huan Jing was told by a fairy that the demon - which had been haunting his villagers - would appear on the ninth day of the ninth month.

The fairy advised the people to climb up a mountain and carry with them some dogwood plant and chrysanthemums to drive away the demon. To mark the occasion in modern times, the Chinese will visit the graves of their ancestors to pay respect. Some families would also drink chrysanthemum wine.