Dutch air safety officials leading the investigation into the MH17 disaster have still not got safe access to the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), now in charge of the investigation, said that as of mid-afternoon on Wednesday investigators’ safety had not been guaranteed.
The board added that analysis of the Malaysia Airlines black box flight recorders, currently being examined by the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Hampshire, “may take several weeks”.
The board added that if the investigation showed evidence of any criminal or terrorist activities, the information would subsequently be submitted to the relevant authorities in accordance with applicable regulations.
The DSB said its investigation would focus on ascertaining facts, rather than apportioning blame.
The board added that it was also conducting two other independent investigations: an investigation into the decision-making process with regard to flight routes and an investigation into the availability of passenger lists.
These investigation reports are expected to be published ahead of the main accident report.
On the on-site investigation, the DSB said: “At the time of writing, the investigators have not yet been able to visit the site of the crash and conduct their investigation under safe conditions.
“In order to conduct an effective investigation, the investigators must have the opportunity to move around the entire investigation site freely, investigate materials and traces from up close and secure them for further study where necessary.”
The board went on: “At present, the investigators’ safety has not been guaranteed. The board and other parties involved are continually working to gain access to the accident site, and are working with other parties to organise effective security so that the investigators can do their work under controlled and safe conditions.”
On the black boxes, the DSB said: “On Tuesday evening the two recorders arrived in Kiev from (the Ukraine town of) Kharkiv and were handed over to the DSB. They were then shipped by air to the UK, where an international team of specialists is working on the read-out and analysis of the data stored in the recorders
“As a part of this effort, the team will also assess whether the black boxes may have been manipulated. The black boxes are expected to provide information relevant to this investigation. The analysis of black box data may take several weeks.”
The DSB said that ultimately, the overall investigation “should offer victims’ families and the international community a clear and comprehensive overview of the causes and course of the crash”.
The board is responsible for co-ordinating all participating investigators and investigation teams from the countries involved (Ukraine, Malaysia, Australia, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The international team consists of 24 investigators. A total of four Dutch Safety Board investigators are currently operating in Ukraine.