Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that an international team recovered more bodily remains at the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine. For several days, conflict stopped investigators from reaching the site.
Tony Abbott on Friday said that mainly Dutch and Australian investigators had made some progress after finally reaching the crash site of the downed Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.
"The team ... as I understand it... recovered some more remains," Abbott told reporters in Sydney, saying he had been briefed on the progress earlier on Friday. He also said that a larger contingent of the investigators would seek to reach the debris field on Friday.
Continued fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military had prevented the investigators from reaching the area for several days. Most of the 298 people killed on Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch, Malaysian and Australian.
Search teams had already recovered many bodies and remains which were flown to the Netherlands, but Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had said on Thursday that the remains of 80 people could still be at the site.
Investigators still cautious on safety
After successfully reaching the site on Thursday, and with plans to send a larger international contingent on Friday, Dutch police heading up the international investigation warned that the area remained perilous.
"The security situation is still very unstable," Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told journalists in Kyiv. "We are not absolutely sure if we can reach the crash site with the whole team of experts in the near future, but we are more hopeful than we were yesterday."
The small team had reached the site on Thursday after Ukraine announced a "day of quiet" across the entire east of the country, following a plea from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cease fire around the large crash site.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday assured Abbott and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte that experts would be able to reach the site on a daily basis starting on Friday. He appealed to separatists to respect a 20-kilometer (12-mile) ceasefire zone around the broad debris field.
Flight MH17 went down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, and is widely believed to have been shot down. The US and European Union have said Ukraine's separatists shot it down from high altitude with rockets supplied by Russia, a charge the Kremlin disputes.
msh/pfd (AFP, dpa)