Wreck recovery under way at MH17 crash site

File photo of debris at the MH17 crash site.

Work has started on the recovery of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was downed over Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives.

The Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the investigation into the disaster, has up to now had limited access to the crash site.

However, the DSB said a few days ago that it hoped to start the recovery soon, and yesterday it said work had begun.

The crash happened on July 17 in an area where pro-Russian separatists operated. The plane was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

A preliminary DSB report in September said wreckage was “consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.

Yesterday, the DSB said: “Today the recovery of wreckage from flight MH17 has started.

“The DSB commissioned the recovery and transportation to the Netherlands of the wreckage as part of the investigation into the cause of the crash of flight MH17. As part of the investigation the DSB intends to reconstruct a section of the craft.

“It is expected that the recovery operation will take several days, depending on the safety conditions and other factors. This will be assessed daily.

“The recovered wreckage will be collected at a location near the crash site, from where the wreckage will be transported to Kharkov and finally to the Netherlands. At this point, the DSB cannot give detailed information about the means of transportation and the time schedule.”

Despite the difficulty in accessing the site due to ongoing fighting in the area, the black box flight recorders were recovered early on and were passed to the DSB after being inspected at Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.

In its September preliminary report, the DSB said the black box information showed the MH17 flight proceeded normally until 1.20pm local time after which all recordings “ended abruptly”.

The DSB said pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places and that most likely there had been “an in-flight break up”.

The board added that it aimed to publish a full report within one year of the date of the crash.

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