The cockpit of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 plane that was shot down over Ukraine has apparently been sawed in half and parts removed by Russian separatists, USA Today reports
International monitors who have been allowed access to the crash site where 283 passengers and 15 crew members died last Thursday reported that the plane’s cockpit was apparently was cut in half with diesel-powered saws, USA Today said. The monitors said they aren’t sure why such important vital pieces of evidence from the plane were tampered with and then removed.
The cockpit was found in a section of the crash site that had been immediately cordoned off during the first two days after the tragedy, USA Today reported. Witnesses also told reporters for the U.S. newspaper that the section where the cockpit was found was also the area where the first bodies were removed.
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Flight 17 was hit by what U.S. officials suspect was a surface-to-air missile launched from an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. The separatists and Russia have denied shooting down the plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
"The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. All of which begs the question: What are they trying to hide?" asked Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the group of international monitors from the Organize for Security and Cooperation in Europe, USA Today reported.
Bociurkiw said the rear part of the plane had also been “hacked into.”
The plane's black box flight recorders, which were handed over by rebels to Malaysian officials, will be flown to a laboratory in the U.K. for analysis.
The black boxes are said to be in good condition and investigators hope the devices will provide answers to what happened to the plane.
In the meantime, the BBC is also reporting that only 200 bodies
out of the 298 victims have been transported to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where they are expected to be taken by a cargo plane on Wednesday to the Dutch city of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Nearly two-thirds of the victims were Dutch citizens.
It’s not immediately known why only 200 of the victims’ bodies have been taken to Kharkiv.
European Union foreign ministers have announced they will impose more sanctions against Russia over its alleged backing for the rebels. Moscow and Russian Vladimir Putin have denied support of the separatists.
The foreign ministers said the list of individuals and groups covered by EU sanctions would be broadened and a new list drawn up by EU ambassadors by Thursday.
The EU must send a clear message of solidarity with and support for Ukraine, Ukraine’s foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said in a news release posted Tuesday
on the European Parliament’s news website, “and strengthen the EU presence on the ground by deploying a Common Security and Defence Policy mission,” Klimkin urged.
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