MH370 search coordinator to lead Australia’s MH17 probe Panel

Canberra: A former Australian defence official, who led the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, arrived in Kiev Monday to examine MH17’s crash site.

Former air chief marshal Angus Houston will lead a 45-man Australian team to investigate the crash site, Xinhua reported.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Monday said that Houston has been sent to the Ukraine capital as his “personal envoy” to ensure “justice is done”, Xinhua reported.

There were 37 Australians on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, making the crash the worst Australian airline disaster in more than 50 years.

Abbott said the state of affairs at the crash site was “an absolute shambolic situation”, and “it was imperative that we get a properly secured site, and a proper investigation”.

“In order to bring them home, we have to first get them out. That is what all of our energies and efforts are directed to – getting them out and getting them home,” Abbot said.

Abbott said that he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin Sunday night and was ensured Australian investigators would have a “full and unfettered access to the site”.

Putin Monday said that the task force investigating Malaysia Airlines MH17 “was not enough” and warned against “narrowly selfish” political exploitation of the tragedy.

According to Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai who arrived in Kiev Sunday, the Ukrainian government had informed the investigation team that the crash site was under the full control of separatist groups and “it cannot guarantee the safety of the international team in and around the crash site”.

A Malaysian team of 133 officials and experts, comprising search and recovery personnel, forensics experts, technical and medical experts arrived in Kiev Saturday.

An international investigation team on the MH17 incident has been established, including officials from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Britain and the US.

Flight MH17, a Boeing 777, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, when it crashed after being hit by a missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, killing all 298 passengers and crew members on board.

This is the second major tragedy for Malaysia Airlines this year after flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board went missing while going from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 8, remaining untraced till date.