Nine passengers who were on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 when it was shot down over Ukraine on July 17 are still missing, and now the Dutch Foreign Minister says the mystery of what became of their bodies may never be solved.
The Netherlands remains in charge of the investigation into the downing of Flight MH17, an investigation that has been rendered nearly impossible because battling pro-Russian and Ukranian government forces in the area where the plane crashed have rarely stopped fighting long enough for the crash investigators to do their work.
New Human Remains Reportedly Uncovered At MH17 Crash Site
The grim announcement from Netherlands Foreign Minister Bert Koenders comes at the same time that Dutch investigators who have managed to get to the Malaysia Airlines crash site have reportedly uncovered new human remains there, at least according to a pro-Russian separatist official in Donetsk.
The Dutch investigators have managed to reach the MH17 crash site four times since September when the two sides signed a cease fire in the area — a cease fire that breaks with regularity.
Donetsk is the rebel-controlled area in eastern Ukraine where the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 went down. The rebels have declared Donetsk its own separate Republic. While the United States, Germany and other western governments say that the plane was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile fired by the pro-Russian rebels, the rebels and the Russian government insist that a Ukrainian fighter jet shot down Flight MH17 from a position in the sky.
Both sides deny having anything to do with downing the civilian airliner, which crashed with 298 passengers and crew on board, and no survivors. Of the passengers on board the doomed flight from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, 193 were Dutch nationals.
The Dutch have not acknowledged finding any new human remains at the MH17 crash site, and the possibility exists that any bodies recovered now could be combatants from either side of the Ukranian conflict who died in the fighting there — not passengers of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight at all.
Not Certain That Missing Bodies Will Ever Be Recovered
But 289 of the 298 victims of the shootdown have been identified. The investigators say they do not plan to give up on finding the final nine victims, but at this late date nearly four months after Flight MH17 went down, it simply may no longer be possible to recover them.
“We cannot say at this moment in any certain way, at what moment and even if we can recover the last nine, but we will do everything we can in cooperation with authorities here to make that happen and that work is still possible to do,” said Koenders.
A preliminary report by Dutch investigators in September blamed the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crash on “high energy objects” striking the plane, but the report did not say where the “objects” came from, or who fired them.