MH17: What we now know, one day on

An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.

One day after the crash of a Malaysian jetliner carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine, here's what is known, and what has been claimed:

The Cause

U.S. officials and an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister have said a surface-to-air missile brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 as it flew Thursday from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people aboard died. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power told the U.N. Security Council in New York on Friday the missile was likely fired from a rebel-held area near the Russian border. Independent aviation experts have agreed a missile was the likely cause, but so far, there's been no proof. Ukraine's government, the pro-Russia rebels who oppose it and Russia have all denied shooting down the passenger plane. The official investigation into the crash and its cause has only begun.

The Black Boxes

The whereabouts of the plane's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder remained unknown Friday. The rebels gave conflicting reports about whether they had found them. Russia's foreign minister said his country had no intention of acquiring them and that they should be given to international aviation organizations. Experts in air accident investigations said the boxes' contents could be key to establishing what happened to the Boeing 777 in the moments before it crashed. The thud of a missile hit or the acoustic shock wave emitted by an explosion could have been picked up by the cockpit recorder, they said.

Watch: MH17: NZ press conference


The Investigation

According to international civil aviation regulations, Ukraine should take the lead in investigating an air crash on its territory. Ukraine has called for an international probe, and the United States has offered to assist. But access to the site in rebel-held lands 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border remained difficult and dangerous Friday. It was still uncertain whether the rebels would allow Ukrainian government officials to pass through their checkpoints. A spokeswoman for Ukraine's emergency services accused rebel militiamen of interfering with recovery operations.

Watch: Malaysia Airlines: US can't rule out Russian role


The Victims

By midday, 181 bodies had been recovered, according to emergency workers.

A Ukraine Foreign Ministry official said remains of the dead would be taken to government-controlled Kharkiv for identification.

Andrei Purgin, a leader of the pro-Russian separatists, said the bodies will be taken to the Black Sea city of Mariupol, also controlled by the government.

Malaysia Airlines and relevant governments said the passengers included:

- 192 Dutch
- 29 Malaysians
- 28 Australians
- 12 Indonesians
- 10 Britons
- 4 Germans
- 4 Belgians
- 3 Vietnamese
- 3 Filipinos
- 1 American
- 1 Canadian
- 1 New Zealander
- 1 Chinese

These likely include some with dual nationalities. Some passengers were researchers and activists heading to an AIDS conference in Australia, news that sparked an outpouring of grief across the scientific community.

Watch: Fireball from Malaysia Airways plane impact


Among them were the well-known Dutch researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society, Joep Lange, and World Health Organization spokesman Glenn Thomas, based in Geneva.

Malaysia Airlines regional vice president Huib Gorter told reporters at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport the carrier was making an initial payment of $5,000 to families of all victims to cover their immediate costs.

Identifying the victims

Interpol said it will send a team in the next 48 hours to help identify victims killed by the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine.

Experts from Interpol's disaster identification squad and missing people's units will be deployed to the site, where 298 died after the apparent downing of the airliner in the rebel-held region.

"International cooperation is essential in ensuring their accurate, dignified and speedy recovery and identification," said Secretary General Ronald Noble in a statement.

"Having spoken with Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, I have assured him of our continued assistance for as long as it is required."

Interpol agents will join some 30 observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe who arrived at the disaster site on Friday to help supervise the handling of the remains of victims from at least nine different countries.

Teams from the international police agency helped to identify victims after the tsunami in Asia a decade ago and the crash of the Air France AF 447 in 2009.

Read also:
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-with additional reporting from AFP

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