One of the people on the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July was found wearing an oxygen mask, the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and prosecutors said, raising the possibility that some passengers might have known their plane was doomed.
“You know that somebody was discovered wearing an oxygen mask and had time to put it on,” Timmermans told a talk show on national television on Wednesday.
Dutch prosecutors confirmed on Thursday they were investigating after the oxygen mask was discovered draped around the person’s neck.
“How and when the mask ended up around the victim’s neck is unknown,” the prosecutors said.
“The Dutch Forensics Institute examined the mask looking for fingerprints, saliva and DNA, but the probe has not revealed any result,” they said in a letter to victims’ families which was published online.
None of the other victims of the crash that killed all 298 on board — 193 of them Dutch — was wearing an oxygen mask, they added.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down on July 17 while flying over insurgent-held territory in eastern Ukraine.
The findings of an initial report by a Dutch-led team of air crash investigators appear to back up claims that the plane was hit by an anti-aircraft missile.
Kiev and the West have accused Moscow-backed separatists of shooting it down with a surface-to-air Buk missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charge and has pointed the finger back at Kiev.
Forensics experts suspended their search for bodies due to clashes between Kiev and pro-Russian rebels near the crash site northeast of Donetsk, but said they hoped to return once the fighting died down.
Timmermans on Thursday said he regretted making the announcement before victims’ families had been informed by prosecutors.
“The last thing I wanted to do was increase their pain... I should not have said it,” Timmermans said in a press release after relatives reacted with horror to his comment.
Prosecutors, who sent their letter in reaction to Timmermans’ comment, said they were still investigating the circumstances of the found oxygen mask.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Cabinet said chances of returning to the MH17 crash site were becoming increasingly remote.
“It seems impossible to return to the crash site in the short term given the continuous unstable and unsafe situation,” it said in a letter to the Dutch parliament.
Efforts to retrieve victims’ personal belongings and give them to relatives also continued, said the letter, signed by the Dutch justice, defense and foreign ministers.
Pages in Russian have been set up on Facebook and the VKontakte social networking sites urging people to report the discovery of belongings or body parts from the crash, the letter said.
It also called for the crash site to be made secure to help in further identifying the bodies.
“Furthermore, the aim is also to retrieve the wreckage from the area. To do this, access is essential and needed the cooperation from separatists controlling the area,” the letter said.
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday
Scientists in Singapore are hoping to perfect a new method of power generation driven largely by shadows, with the hope that it could one day help highly urbanized cities power themselves. The shadow-effect energy generator (SEG) being developed by the National University of Singapore has the potential to harness power like solar cells, but without needing open spaces with uninterrupted light. To work effectively, the SEG requires both light and dark and, like solar panels, relies on light to shine on silicon to energize electrons. However, using panels that feature a thin layer of either gold, silver, platinum or tungsten, the difference in
ALLEGED CONFLICT INTEREST: Two family members of the Canadian PM have received money from an organization that was later granted a larg e federal project For the third time in as many years, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday found himself at the center of a political firestorm — this time over the awarding of a lucrative government contract to a charity that also paid hefty sums to members of his family. Canada’s Conservative opposition has demanded a police investigation to uncover whether fraud was committed in the granting of the C$900 million (US$662.064 million) contract to WE Charity in June. The organization has admitted paying nearly C$300,000 to Trudeau’s mother, brother and wife for speaking engagements. Trudeau said he had part in negotiations with the charity