Despite reports of deadly clashes nearby, a team of investigators has been able to access the MH17 crash site. Officials are working to recover the remains of dozens of victims and to establish the cause of the crash.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed on Friday that over 60 international experts had reached the field where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, killing all 298 people on board.
"Recovery work starts immediately," the OSCE said on Twitter.
The Dutch justice ministry also confirmed that the experts would be conducting "search operation in several places at the crash site," in a statement on Friday.
Fighting in the area around the debris field hashindered previous attempts
to recover both the remains of the victims of the plane crash and evidence that could establish the cause of the disaster.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshneko and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have called on separatists to respect a 20-kilometer (12 mile) ceasefire zone around the broad debris field.
On Thursday, a smaller team from the international mission had accessed the site. However, the team's leader, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told reporters that "the security situation is still very unstable."
Many of the bodies have already been flown to the Netherlands - which had the most passengers on board - for identification.According to Australian officials
, investigators believe that the remains of up to 80 people could still be at the site.
Hours before the OSCE resumed its probe, the Ukrainian military reported heavy casualties from an overnight clash with separatists.
"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," Ukrainian military spokesperson Oleksiy Dmytrashkivsky said.
"So far we are talking about 10 Ukrainian servicemen dead" in the clash, he added.
The eastern Ukrainian town lies on the highway linking the cities which are the separatists' two main strongholds: Donetsk and Luhansk. It is also close to where Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed late last month afterallegedly being shot down by rebels
The Ukrainian military has intensified its military campaign aimed at wresting territory from the grip of separatists, who are accused by the international community ofreceiving financial and logistical support from Russia
kms/pfd (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)