KUALA LUMPUR: The latest ceasefire in eastern Ukraine will be crucial in helping to recover bodies and remains at the MH17 crash site, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said the Ukrainian government should also be responsible to ensure the safe return of Malaysian rescue personnel sent to the crash site.
“The ceasefire is crucial as we need to recover the bodies and we need to recover the wreckage. The rescuers cannot afford to have clashes going on around them while they are searching for the bodies and remains of those on board MH17,” he told pressmen after receiving the Pingat Kedaulatan Negara award presented by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in a ceremony held at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) here yesterday.
He added that the Government had already begun talks with Ukraine to expedite the return of Malaysian personnel to the crash site.
Liow was responding to reports of a ceasefire agreed to by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in eastern Ukraine.
However, the reports have been ambiguous with a top rebel figure saying that no ceasefire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces.
On another matter, Liow said the investigation committee had identified the remains of another Malaysian victim on Wednesday, bringing to 33 the number of Malaysians identified so far.
Ten more are still not accounted for.
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein will head to Ukraine this weekend to expedite Malaysia’s re-entry into the MH17 crash site.
He said ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Ahmad had already left for Kiev to help pave the way.
“The Prime Minister has asked me to secure agreements with all parties involved to allow our investigation team to return to the crash site. The Cabinet wants immediate action taken on this,” he told a press conference after sending off the first batch of 213 Malbatt personnel to Beirut as part of a United Nations peace mission.
Meanwhile in The Hague, the Dutch said they would publish a preliminary report next Tuesday into the disaster that killed all 298 people on board.
The Dutch Safety Board said in a statement yesterday that the report “will present factual information based on sources available” to its investigators. Those sources include satellite imagery, radar details and data from the plane’s “black box” recorders.