MH17: Experts recover human remains at Malaysia Airlines crash site in Ukraine; deadly fighting rages nearby




International experts have found the remains of more victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, as 14 people were killed in nearby fighting that renewed security concerns around the wreckage.

The full Australian and Dutch reconnaissance team reached the crash site after four days of failed attempts to make it across a battlefront to the wreckage.

Their convoy of 20 cars finally made its way through the disputed battleground, as fighting between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian military continued nearby.

“They found and recovered human remains,” Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said, adding that the remains will be taken to the Netherlands for identification.

The expert group, which Ukrainian authorities said numbered 101 people, was the largest to access the wreckage since MH17 crashed on July 17, killing all 298 people aboard.

The AFP’s deputy commissioner for national security, Andrew Colvin, says investigators have also been able to secure personal items of victims.

“It’s possessions as well. Obviously possessions are important to the family members,” he said.

“You would’ve seen that some family members have specifically commented that they’d like certain [items] that their loved ones had taken with them to be returned, so we’ve recovered possessions and we’ve also recovered some minor parts of wreckage.”

Leaders of the Australian team say they are not sure how long they will continue the dangerous and difficult task of pushing through to the plane wreckage zone, but at least they have been able to start.

Sniffer dogs will soon be available to assist the investigation team locate human remains in the area.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says it will take “at least a week to get the job done”.

“And that’s assuming nothing goes wrong because it’s a large area that does need to be searched. It’s in the order of 50 square kilometres and we will do it as quickly as we can, as safely as we can,” he said.

“We will get our people in, get cracking and get our people out.”

As the teams worked at the site, there was heavy fighting near Shakhtarsk, one of the closest towns to the wreckage.

The Ukrainian military said separatist forces killed 14 people, including at least 10 Ukrainian paratroopers, in an ambush after midnight.

“In total it is known that 14 people died but the bodies of four of them have not been identified and could be Ukrainian soldiers or terrorists,” spokesman Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky said.

Bishop to return to Australia after negotiating crash site access in Ukraine

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says she will fly back to Perth from the Ukraine this weekend to attend a service honouring Perth children Evie, Otis and Mo Maslin, along with their grandfather Nick Norris, who all died on the flight.

“I mentioned this family in a speech to the Security Council over 10 days ago and every day I talk about it I tear up so I won’t go any further. I don’t know how I’m going to get through Sunday but we will, we will,” she said.

“It’s just a reminder of what we’re all doing here. This is about trying to get closure for the families of the 38 Australian residents killed in this most tragic act.”

Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spokesman Michael Bociurkiw tweeted on Friday that there had been many “disturbing reports from journalists of security problems to/from region close to the crash site”.

Ukrainian government forces have intensified their military offensive against the rebels in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine since the airliner came down.

The separatists are now pegged back in their two main strongholds, the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The United States says the separatists probably shot down the plane by mistake with equipment provided by Russia, but the rebels and Moscow deny the accusation and blame the crash on Kiev’s military campaign to quell the uprising.

Kiev said in its latest combat report that Russian aircraft had flown over east Ukrainian territory, the latest of several such accusations in the last few weeks, but Moscow denied the reports.

The United Nations said in a report this week that more than 1,100 people had been killed and nearly 3,500 wounded in the conflict between mid-April and July 26.

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Posted by on Aug 2 2014. Filed under News, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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