Photo courtesy of SBS
Photo courtesy of SBS

17 July 2015 marks one year since flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing 298 people on board. A year later, how much more do we know about the tragic crash?

Has anyone claimed responsibility for the crash?

No. However, it’s suspected that pro-Russia separatist rebels are likely to have been the ones to accidentally shoot down the plane with a Buk missile system. Russia has denied this, as has the leader of the separatist rebels, who in turn blamed the Ukrainian army. When MH17 was shot down, Ukraine and Russia were in the midst of conflict over Crimea.

Who is investigating?

Investigations are being led by the Netherlands. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that Dutch authorities have completed the full MH17 plane crash report, and have handed it to us Malaysia to provide feedback on the matter within 60 days. The full report from the Dutch Safety Board is expected to be published in October.

Have all the bodies been identified?

296 of the 298 bodies have been identified and returned to their home countries, according to media reports. However, forensic teams are still trying to identify two final people, believed to be Dutch.

Will the families see justice for those who shot down the plane?

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has spoken of Malaysia and the Netherlands possibly setting up an international tribunal with the help of the United Nations to establish criminal responsibility of the shooting. However, Russia has dismissed this move as unnecessary.

Can aviation safety be improved?

Speaking at Malaysia’s memorial service on 11 July, Malaysia’s Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has urged for an International Global Trekking System to be implemented for commercial aircrafts, as well as for the Internationl Civil Aviation Organization to provide more information about high risk routes.

What has happened to Malaysia Airlines?

From July 25th 2014 onwards, Malaysia Airlines retired the flight number MH17 to MH19 for its Amsterdam–Kuala Lumpur route. By 18 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines’ shares dropped by nearly 16%. This ultimately led the company to lay off 6,000 out of its 20,000 workforce, in order to avoid bankruptcy and turn around the airline.

Malaysia Airlines is still in the process of paying out compensation to the families of the deceased. It has arranged for 85 next of kin to attend the Dutch government’s memorial service in the Netherlands on 17 July.

Tyler Lim and Ling Low

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