More MH17 remains found

Last updated 16:09 01/08/2014
MH17
Reuters

FRUSTRATING WAIT: Alexander Hug (left), of the OSCE's monitoring mission in Ukraine, looks on next to an armed pro-Russian separatist on the way to the crash site of MH17.

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The remaining bodies of MH17 victims and their personal items could be taken by train out of the crash site in eastern Ukraine within days.

The breakthrough came after a meeting between Russian, Ukrainian and separatist leaders in Minsk, and followed the successful mission of an advance team involving Australian and Dutch police.

Ukrainian deputy prime minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on Twitter that within two days militants would allow a train to return personal belongings from the crash site.

The Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Friday the advance team, accompanied by monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), had been able to make an initial assessment of the site.

"A larger team will attempt to enter the crash site later today to commence the recovery of the remaining victims," police said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the advance team, which previously had been foiled four times from reaching the site, had also located more bodily remains.

Australian officials believe as many as 80 bodies are still at the site.

"(The team will) really substantially begin the thorough professional search of the site to ensure remains are recovered, the investigation is assisted and justice can be done," Abbott said.

MH17 is believed to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists, killing all 298 people on board including 38 Australian and one New Zealand passport holder.

Abbott said the police mission was risky, given the continued fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists in the area.

But the government had taken the best expert advice and special envoy Angus Houston was "plugged in" to the international team involved in the mission.

Following Clive Palmer's comments that Australian police should be withdrawn because of the dangers, Abbott said he did not lightly put personnel in harm's way.

"But let's not forget 298 innocent people have been murdered, 38 Australians have been murdered," he said.

"We owe it to our dead to bring them back, we owe it to their families to bring them back."

The advance team paused for a moment's silence at the crash site when it arrived, almost two weeks to the hour since the plane went down.

The drive, which usually takes an hour, took six hours because the group took a safer route.

Senior representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE met in Minsk as news came through of the successful mission.

A statement following the meeting said the senior representatives had committed to securing safe access by international investigators to the crash site until their work on the spot was completed.

There was also agreement on the release of hostages, improved monitoring of the ceasefire and better control and verification on the border between Ukraine and Russia.

Another meeting will be held next week.

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- AAP

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