Malaysia Airlines MH17 one year on: 4 things to know about the ill-fated flight

Relatives of the victims of the MH17 passenger plane crash react during the Malaysia Airlines MH17 First Year Memorial Ceremony, in Malaysia, on July 11, 2015.
Relatives of the victims of the MH17 passenger plane crash react during the Malaysia Airlines MH17 First Year Memorial Ceremony, in Malaysia, on July 11, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

A memorial service was held at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Saturday to mark the first year anniversary of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over Ukraine on July 17 last year, killing all 298 passengers and crew - mostly Dutch, Malaysians and Australians.

Although investigations into the incident are still ongoing, Malaysia's Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the service is a sign of respect for the families of the victims involved.


Relatives of the victims hold hands during the Malaysia Airlines MH17 First Year Memorial Ceremony, in Malaysia, on July 11, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

Apart from Malaysia, Netherlands and Australia will also hold similar events in their respective countries.

Here are four things to know about the tragedy.

1. United Nations International Tribunal

Malaysia distributed on July 8 a draft United Nations resolution to set up an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for downing flight MH17. It is a joint proposal by Malaysia, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine.

Malaysia, a member of the 15-member council, hoped the resolution could be adopted later this month, diplomats said.

2. Passengers and crew

 

Among the passengers, about two-thirds were Dutch while many others were Australians and Malaysians. All 15 crew were Malaysians.

At least 20 families were on the ill-dated flight and 80 of the passengers were below 18 years old.

About 60 delegates, on their way to attend an International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, were also on the flight, including pioneering HIV researcher Joep Lange.

Malaysian actress Shuba Jaya and her Dutch husband were returning to Kuala Lumpur after visiting his parents with their daughter who would have turned two.

3. Airlines avoided eastern Ukrainian airspace

A few airlines including Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and British Airways had started avoiding Ukrainian airspace in March 2014 in the wake of the 2014 Crimean crisis.

 

The ICAO alerted commercial flights about the route in April 2014.

The American Federal Aviation Administration also issued restrictions on flights over Crimea - to the south of MH17's route - warning airlines flying over some parts of Ukraine to be extremely careful.

Singapore Airlines confirmed that it had been avoiding parts of the country's airspace even before the incident. But SIA had flown over other parts of the war-torn country, including the area where flight MH17 went down, where there were no restrictions against commercial flights, the carrier said.

4. Final technical investigation report

Led by the Dutch, a final technical investigation report is due in October. Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine are also part of the joint inquiry.

Speaking at the memorial service on Saturday (July 11), Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said the Dutch Safety Board is finalising the report and will be examined in accordance with the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The investigations would be based on multiple sources of information including the cockpit voice recorder, flight data recorder and information provided by air traffic control.

Mr Najib added that all five countries would ensure that those responsible for the incident would be brought to justice.

SOURCES: Astro News, Agence France-Presse, Malaysian Insider, Mirror UK, The Straits Times Archives, Reuters.