London: To figure out why a Malaysian jetliner fell from the sky, investigators will use the wreckage of any missile found to determine where it came from and who fired it, experts said Friday. That may be easier said than done in the middle of a war zone.
The first international monitors to arrive on the scene, 24 hours after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came down, found bodies strewn on the ground and restrictions from armed militiamen.
That gives a sense of the formidable obstacles investigators face in deciphering a disaster scene spread over 20 square kilometers (eight square miles) of contested ground in eastern Ukraine - amid a conflict in which both sides have interests that may outweigh a desire to uncover the truth.
"We are in a country that is at war, and that is in a war of communication," aviation analyst Gerard Feldzer said in Paris. "Everyone is pushing a pawn."
All 283 passengers and 15 crew members aboard the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed in Thursday's crash. U.S authorities and aviation experts say the Boeing 777 was likely brought down by a ground-to-air missile, but so far there is no proof of who fired it. Ukraine and the insurgents blame each other.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said Washington believes the plane was likely downed by an SA-11 missile fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. She said Russia has provided the militants with SA-11s and other heavy weapons.
The U.N. Security Council called Friday for "a full, thorough and independent international investigation" into the downing of the plane, but that is a complicated proposition.
Under international civil aviation rules, Ukraine should take the lead in investigating an airline accident on its territory. Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister, told The Associated Press that the investigation would be carried out by the Interior Ministry and the Security Services of Ukraine, who would work alongside international observers.
It was unclear what access either group would have to the crash site.