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More MH17 remains found

August 1, 2014

International investigators have found more human remains at the flight MH17 crash site in east Ukraine. Recovery efforts in the area have been hampered by fighting between government and pro-Russian separatist forces.

Ukraine OSZE Absturzstelle MH 17
Image: AFP/Getty Images

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday that the team of experts working at the crash site had "found and recovered human remains."

"They will ... be brought back to the Netherlands for identification," he said, adding that the investigators had finished their work for the day.

Security concerns have overshadowed the recovery effort at the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines flight, which went down in separatist-controlled territory on July 17. All 298 people on board were killed - most of the victims were from the Netherlands and Australia.

Remains to be sent to Netherlands

The US says MH17 was likely shot down mistakenly by separatists using a Russian-supplied missile. The rebels and Moscow deny the accusation, saying the crash was Kyiv's fault and Russia had no role in the incident.

More than 200 coffins have been sent back to the Netherlands. Many more of the remains of flight MH17's victims have yet to be recovered.

"We are happy that we can make sure that these remains can now be sent to the Netherlands," said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the Dutch police official sent to head up the investigation team. "We hope that this can bring some comfort to the bereaved. It is a relief that our people are now at work."

Security concerns

Roads to the area were too dangerous because of ongoing fighting, forcing investigators to cancel their visit to the crash site for three consecutive days. In the latest violence, separatist forces killed at least 10 Ukrainian paratroopers in an overnight ambush near Shakhtarsk, one of the closest towns to the airliner wreckage, Ukraine's military said.

Fighting in the town has been ongoing for several days. A Ukrainian military official said a further 13 troops were wounded in the fighting and 11 are still unaccounted for.

A limited ceasefire in the area was agreed to this week to make it safe for investigators to reach the crash site. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday that he promised to adhere to the ceasefire, according to a statement from the presidency website.

dr/jr (AFP, Reuters)