Investigators have recovered more remains at the MH17 site in Ukraine. The US and allies blame separatists for the downing of the plane while Moscow points the finger at Ukraine's military.
Speaking on Saturday from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the head of a recovery mission sent by the Netherlands, said that 70 Dutch and Australian investigators had combed the site for a second consecutive day, despite clashes between separatists and Ukrainian forces nearby.
"This is of great importance to the international police officers, the experts and, especially, the victims' families," Aalbersberg said on Saturday.
Aalbersberg's team is searching for the decomposing remains of approximately 80 of the 298 passengers of the Boeing 777 airplane spread over an area of 8 square miles (20 square kilometers) - a process expected to take weeks. He has not given details of the remains recovered so far.
The separatists and Russian officials deny accusations by the United States and allied nations that separatists used anti-aircraft weaponry provided by Moscow to bring down the plane. Instead, they blame the July 17 downing on the Ukrainian government's military campaign to quell the uprising.
Shelling forced one group to stop working on Saturday, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which sends monitors to accompany search teams. Alexander Hug, deputy head of the OSCE's mission in Ukraine, said shelling came to within about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from a second area where wreckage had fallen.
"We had to abandon that visit due to shelling nearby the location," Hug told reporters on Saturday.
The experts have transferred the remains they did manage to recover by refrigerated truck to a facility in Kharkiv for examination by forensic experts from the Netherlands, Malaysia and Australia - the three countries whose nationals made up the bulk of the plane's passengers.
The remains will then go to the Netherlands, to join more than 200 bodies collected and transferred in an initial haphazard effort overseen by the separatists. The process of identifying those remains has proved painstaking.
Across eastern Ukraine, fighting between government forces and separatists has claimed about 1,150 lives since mid-April. That tally does not include the passengers en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
mkg/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)