KUALA LUMPUR: More than a dozen separatist groups operating close to the MH17 crash site are preventing Dutch and Malaysian search personnel from entering the area to recover the fuselage of the plane.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the complexity, due to sporadic exchanges of fire in the areas surrounding the crash site, has lowered the chances of personnel to enter the area.
“There are 12 to 13 separatist groups so it is not easy for us to enter despite the ceasefire agreement made.
“Yesterday, officials managed to recover some belongings of the victims but it is more important for us to recover the fuselage and other evidence so we can investigate further,” said Liow in reply to a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim in Parliament on Wednesday.
Abdul Azeez had asked when Malaysians will have closure over the tragedy which killed 298 passengers and crew members on board.
Liow said Malaysian and Dutch officials are doing their best to negotiate with Ukraine separatist groups to enter the crash site and recover more bodies and evidence.
He said as winter is approaching, the window of opportunity to enter the crash site is getting smaller, adding that if it is not done before winter, search teams may only be able to enter the are sometime in April next year.
Liow said only one Malaysian, Puan Seri Siti Amirah Parawira, out of the 44 victims on board are yet to be identified.
He added that so far 15 family members of victims on board the ill-fated flight have agreed to receive compensation of US$50,000 each from Malaysia Airlines.
He also said the entire cost of the search and repatriations is yet to be determined as the Government had only borne the logistics, accommodation and food cost of the 278 civil servants that were sent to Netherlands and Ukraine.
He said the repatriation cost was borne by MAS.
Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17 while flying over insurgent-held territory in eastern Ukraine.