Malaysia voices concern over integrity of MH17 crash site

Malaysia today expressed its concern that the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site has been compromised as it has not been secured properly.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said authorities were concerned because the crash site had not been cordoned off from trespassers and intruders.

"I will be meeting up with my Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev to discuss the retrieval of bodies and to begin investigations into the disaster."

"It is important that the integrity of the crash site is not compromised nor is evidence removed from the scene," Liow said during a press conference at the Sama-Sama Hotel in Sepang today.

"There is a possibility that vital evidence may have been removed from the crash site," Liow said.

He revealed that a special technical team had already arrived in Kiev, which includes the Special Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) personnel. However, he added, they are still awaiting clearance to go to the crash site in the Donetsk region, bordering Russia.

In light of reports of looting and pillaging at the crash site, Liow called on all parties, including the Ukrainian government, to protect the integrity of the scene.

"The world has a moral obligation that the remains of the victims are retrieved and treated with respect," Liow said.

Liow said any action which prevented authorities and investigators from learning the truth about MH17 was a betrayal and an obstruction of justice.

"Let us respect the families which have lost their sons and daughters, nations which have lost their citizens," Liow said.

He said the remains of the 298 victims could not be laid to rest yet as their bodies were still out in the open.

"Their lives have been claimed by violence, and now violence is also the main obstacle for these victims to be accorded the final respects."

Liow said Malaysia Airlines group chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya was presently in Kiev to assist in MH17 recovery operations.

"We intend to ask the Ukrainian government and other parties for support in identifying the remains of the victims," he said.

Liow said he was departing for Ukraine tonight.

Looting at crash site

USA Today reported earlier today that looters and pillagers were swarming over the crash site and stealing valuables.

Ukrainian officials have no idea how many items have been stolen by the looters.

"However, the looting and pillaging could ultimately interfere with the official investigation into the MH17 disaster," the report said.

As investigators retrieved luggage from the grisly crime scene on Friday, they discovered that many of the bags had been opened and rifled through.

Items which had been left behind by the looters included a Minnie Mouse lunchbox, Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal and passports.

USA Today reported that the looting and pillaging was only part of the chaos at the crash site.

"The recovery effort lacks organisation as possessions found in the debris have not been categorised or recorded.

"Unlike standard crime scene procedures, the system at the crash site is lacking in order and organisation," USA Today reported.

The report also stated that the crash site has not been cordoned off and unidentified individuals were allowed into the area.

"This has encouraged mobs of looters and pillagers to swarm around the crash site looking for valuables."

MH17 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when the aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) over Ukraine. – July 19, 2014.