MH17: Biggest day ever in victim recovery, OSCE says

 

MH17: Extended coverage

“I think we all agree that today was the biggest day ever in terms of the process of disaster victim recovery,” said Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine.

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“It was a very, very good day. The experts out there did recover victim remains.”

The deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, said he didn’t know exactly how many passengers’ remains were found.

“There were several found today,” Hug said.

Belongings were taken to a train in the town of Torez close to the crash site, he added.

The OSCE intends to visit the MH17 crash site again on Saturday along with the international experts, who are now based at Soledar. 

Earlier, the 70 Dutch and Australian experts at the MH17 crash site recovered more human remains and will take them to a new recovery mission in Soledar.

“The 70 Dutch and Australian experts have finished their work at the MH17 crash site for today,” a Dutch justice ministry statement said.

“All human remains that were found will be taken with them.”

More than 220 coffins have been sent back to the Netherlands, but efforts to recover more remains left at the site have been hampered by clashes between government troops and separatist fighters around the insurgent-controlled territory.

“We are happy that we can make sure that these remains can now be sent,” said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the Dutch police official sent to Ukraine to head up the mission there.

“We hope that this can bring comfort to the bereaved. It is a relief that our people are now at work.”

Despite the international team managing to begin work at the site the fighting that had impeded their probe continued to rage across eastern Ukraine on Friday.

The Ukrainian military said an overnight ambush by insurgents in Shakhtarsk, a town 25km from the main impact site, left 14 people dead, including at least 10 soldiers.

Thirteen more soldiers were injured and another 11 were missing as fighting wore on, the military said.

The clash broke a brief lull during a one-day ceasefire from the Ukrainian authorities.

Both rebels and Kiev have vowed to keep open an access corridor to the crash site, while Ukraine’s army has pledged not to fight in the immediate vicinity.

Fighting also flared in Donetsk, which serves as the base for the international police and journalists trying to reach the MH17 site some 60km away, with local authorities saying one civilian died after a minibus taxi was hit by mortar shrapnel.

The continuing violence highlights the huge task facing the international probe into the downing of the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight, as more experts from Malaysia were due to arrive.

Experts are looking to move in heavier equipment and sniffer dogs to help scour the vast site and will set up a new base in Soledar, northwest of the crash site, to help handle the remains.

Back in the Netherlands the painstaking task of processing the bodies carried on with only the second body to be identified so far revealed as a Dutch national.

The US says the pro-Russian insurgents likely shot down the plane with a missile supplied from Russia. But Moscow and the rebels contend the aircraft could have been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet.

Russia’s aviation authorities have said that a team of their own experts had arrived in Kiev and were hoping to reach the crash site.

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