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Investigators explore cause of Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash

Investigators explore cause of Malaysian Airlines MH17 crash

International investigators are set to be given access to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 after pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine confirmed they would allow access.

The flight came down yesterday on rebel-held territory carrying 298 people.

Both sides in the Ukrainian civil conflict have accused each other of shooting down the jet with a missile.

The Boeing 777 was on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it crashed.

It fell between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighbouring region of Donetsk.

At least 154 Dutch nationals were on board, along with 27 Australians, 43 Malaysians (including 15 crew), 12 Indonesians and nine Britons.

Other passengers came from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.

British prime minister David Cameron is this morning holding a COBRA meeting following the British deaths, to assess the security implications of the latest incident.

Flight MH17 departed Amsterdam at 12.15 yesterday and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 06.10 am this morning.

Following the crash, Ukrainian authorities have closed the airspace in the east of the country to all airline flights.

Emirates was among the first airlines to cancel flights, confirming all departures to Kiev would be suspended immediately “until further notice”.

German flag-carrier Lufthansa said it had decided to “fly a wide detour around east Ukrainian airspace with immediate effect”.

British Airways said its flights did not use Ukrainian airspace, with the exception of a once-a-day service between Heathrow and Kiev.

BA said this service would continue to operate at present as it the capital was away from the affected area.

Flight MH17 had been due to enter Russian airspace when contact was lost.

The government of Malaysia is dispatching a special flight to Kiev, carrying a Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, as well as a medical team.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said: “This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia.

“As we work to understand what happened, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those on-board the flight.”

Malaysian Airlines MH370 disappeared on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8th, with authorities continuing to search the south Indian Ocean for the aircraft.

A total of 239 passengers remain missing following the earlier incident.