The National Security Adviser chaired a further meeting on the MH17 disaster this afternoon. Officials from across Whitehall, the police and representatives of the agencies attended. They discussed what more we have established about the cause of disaster; the latest information on the British nationals who tragically lost their lives; and progress towards a credible investigation into the incident.
While it is too early to be categoric about the cause of the disaster, the growing weight of evidence suggests that MH17 was shot down by a surface to air missile and that this was fired from near Torez, in territory controlled by the separatists. This is backed up by claims made by separatist leaders on social media, and later removed, to have shot down an aircraft that they thought belonged to the Ukrainian military. On this basis we assess that, without compelling information to the contrary, it is increasingly likely that MH17 was shot down by a separatist missile.
We now know that 10 British nationals tragically lost their lives in this appalling disaster. The families of those killed have been informed and the Foreign Office is offering consular assistance to them at this difficult time. The Foreign Office has also sent extra consular staff to Ukraine to support teams on the ground and the Metropolitan Police are liaising with international partners to send specialist offers to Ukraine to assist with the recovery, identification and repatriation of those killed.
It is vital that specialist investigators are able to access the crash site as soon as possible to establish the full facts of what happened and to ensure that the victims can be returned to their loved ones as soon as possible. We support a Ukrainian-led investigation that includes specialist experts from Malaysia, the Netherlands and other countries and which is line with international standards set by the ICAO. This investigation must be swift, transparent and credible. Six investigators from the UK Air Accident Investigation Branch will arrive in Kiev tomorrow to provide assistance.