"The flight took off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport."
Kuala Lumpur, July 18 - Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai Friday said that Ukraine should launch a probe into the circumstances that led to the crash of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 Thursday.

Liow said Malaysia would offer its full and unqualified support to the investigation, Xinhua reported.

Malaysia has been formally invited to participate, and will send two senior accredited representatives to assist, Liow said.

Liow promised that Malaysia Airlines would take its responsibilities to the next of kin of the victims seriously, adding the company had arranged about 40 staff to be flown to Amsterdam to support the families.

In total, 62 people - 30 SMART team members, 15 medical staff, 10 Royal Malaysia Air Force representatives, five Malaysia Airlines staff, two Department of Civil Aviation staff - are travelling to Kiev, he said.

Liow also gave an update on the nationalities of the passengers on board the aircraft, saying there were still 20 remaining to be verified.

According to a latest list given by him, there were 173 people from the Netherlands, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine British, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos, one Canadian, and one New Zealander.

However, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders Friday said that there were five Belgian nationals on board the ill-fated flight.

Once all families have been contacted, the passenger manifest will be released, he said, adding that Malaysia Airlines would release the cargo manifest later Friday.

As to the flight path of MH17, Liow said it was approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and by the countries whose airspace the route passes through.

And the International Air Transportation Association has also stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was unrestricted, he added.

Liow said 15 out of 16 airlines under the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines fly this route over Ukraine, and European airlines also used the same route, and traversed the same airspace.

In the hours before the incident, a number of other passenger aircraft from different carriers used the same route, he added.

The minister also said there were no last-minute instructions given to the pilots of MH17 to change the route of the flight.

Liow said officials in the US and Ukraine have indicated that MH17 was shot down.

Should this be confirmed, it would contravene international law, and be an outrage against human decency, he stressed.

Liow said Malaysia condemned in the strongest possible terms any such action, and called for those responsible to be swiftly brought to justice.

When asked whether the Malaysia Airlines chose this flight path in a bid to save fuel cost, he said such reports were not true.

The Kuala Lumpur-bound Malaysia Airlines MH17 jetliner crashed Thursday over Ukraine near the Russian border, with all the 298 passengers and crew members on board killed. It was believed to have been shot down by a rocket.

The flight took off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

This is the second major tragedy for Malaysia Airlines this year after flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 8 and has not been traced till date.


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