PUTRAJAYA (NST) – Investigators have 45 days to recover evidence and the rest of the remains of flight MH17 victims.
If the security situation is not already challenging for them, past the deadline, they will face another obstacle.
Winter will set in and snow will blanket the area. The Malaysian team, which includes the highly-trained VAT69 commandos, are hoping to dive into a lake at the crash site in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, to look for more remains.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the 30 members of the Royal Malaysian Police Force had not been able to access the site as they were stranded in Kiev.
It is still risky to enter the area, despite a ceasefire treaty signed by the Ukrainian government and the eastern rebel forces.
The restriction, he said, also applied to teams from Australia and the Netherlands.
“We will wait for the right time for our team to resume the investigation. It will be more difficult to work in extreme conditions and obtain evidence if they are buried under thick snow.”
Zahid said there would be a contingency plan if the investigators remained blocked out from the site.
“They will carry out an analysis on materials gathered earlier by the team that is based in Kiev and The Hague in the Netherlands,” Zahid said, adding that Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had met Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who had pledged assistance and support.
Hishammuddin said yesterday Moscow had pledged to help negotiate early safe passage into the crash site and assist Kuala Lumpur in bringing justice to the victims.
“Both parties agreed on the need for the MH17 investigations to be impartial and transparent.”
He said they also discussed military cooperation between Malaysia and Russia.
Hishammuddin was in the Netherlands yesterday to meet his counterpart, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, to continue discussions on cooperation in the investigations.