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Time running out for work at MH17 crash site as winter nears — minister

September 29, 2014, 9:00 UTC+3 SINGAPORE
The probe team must be able to gain access to the site before all evidence is covered by snow, Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai says
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© EPA/Jerry Lampen, file

SINGAPORE, September 29. /ITAR-TASS/. Investigators looking into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash over the embattled eastern Ukraine have less than a month left to gather evidence, Malaysian Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said on Monday.

“The probe team must be able to gain access to the site before all evidence is covered by snow,” the Star newspaper quoted the minister as saying.

He said the team could not reach the site due to continuous fighting between the Ukrainian government forces and militias. “We are working hard and making efforts to persuade both parties to follow the ceasefire treaty,” he added.

A team of 30 Malaysian experts arrived in Ukraine on September 8 to continue gathering evidence as well as search for remains of crash victims. However, they have failed to get to the crash site as of yet.

If the situation does not improve, search at the site will be postponed till next year, Malaysian Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said.

The previous search operation in the area continued less than a week, as on August 6 international experts finished their work for safety considerations. Khalid Abu Bakar said specialists had managed to comb less than half of the area, failing to bring any debris from the crash site.

A Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people crashed in east Ukraine on July 17 on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Both sides in Ukraine’s conflict accused each other of shooting down the plane with a missile.

Kiev’s military operation designed to regain control over the eastern Ukrainian breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums, was launched in mid-April and has involved armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation.

The ceasefire was achieved at a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukraine on September 5.

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