Ukrainian Rebels Hand Over MH17 Black Boxes

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 21 2014 9:07 PM

Ukrainian Rebels Hand Over MH17 Black Boxes

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A pro-Russian separatist shows members of the media a black box belonging to Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev

After several chaotic days of negotiations over access to the MH17 crash site, early on Tuesday morning in Ukraine, the rebels turned over the plane's two black boxes—which are actually orange—to Malaysian officials. Separatist leadern Aleksander Borodai made the transfer in Donetsk. “'Here they are, the black boxes,’ Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk,” Reuters reports. “Both sides then signed a document, which Borodai said was a protocol to finalize the procedure after lengthy talks with the Malaysians.”

Malaysian officials said at the meeting the two black boxes were “in good condition.” The data stored in the boxes should shed light on “the exact time of the incident and the altitude and exact position of the aircraft,” according to the BBC. “They should also contain the cockpit voice recorder, which it is hoped will provide clues as to what the cause of the crash was.”

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The handoff capped a busy day as the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed—with Russian support—"a resolution that ‘condemns in the strongest terms’ the attack that brought down the Malaysia Airlines plane in eastern Ukraine, called for an international investigation with the United Nations civil aviation agency, and demanded that armed groups at the crash site allow unfettered access,” the New York Times reports. “Russia agreed to support the draft text after intense negotiations that went on until early Monday morning, in which language of the draft text was tweaked to satisfy the Kremlin’s demands.”

Meanwhile, earlier in the evening, “a train of refrigerated carriages finally rolled out of the station in the rebel-controlled city of Torez carrying bodies collected from the crash site in recent days,” the Guardian reports. “Borodai said the train contained the bodies of 282 of the victims, as well as 87 ‘other body fragments,’ and said that it had arrived in Donetsk after leaving the station of Torez near the crash.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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