Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Rebels blocking movement of refrigerated body train, Ukraine says

Officials say that rebels will not allow the train to depart, as Dutch and Malaysian experts arrive at the scene to investigate the refrigerated wagons

Armed rebels are blocking the movement of train carts containing the bodies of MH17 victims, Ukraine has said.

Confusion and frustration still reigns over where the bodies are to be transported, after being piled into refrigerated carriages in Torez, 15km from the crash site.

“As of today we managed to load 192 bodies and 8 body parts of the innocent victims of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 flight onto a special train,” Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Hroisman, said in a statement on the government’s website.

“The train is in Torez and it is sealed. We finished this task in the morning, however, up until now the train has not left the station, for the terrorists are blocking the way. We are in constant negotiations with them regarding the transportation of the bodies of the victims.”

It comes as a further 21 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, taking the total number of bodies found to 251.

It is unknown how quickly the bodies can be transferred to the refrigerated railcars in Torez.

“We sent two trains, four carts, which right now are in Torez City,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said, according to Sky News.

“These bloody guerrillas do not allow the train to leave the area.”

There are also reports that 38 bodies had been separately transferred to a morgue in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk and were being analysed by Russian undertakers.

The Ukrainian government's comments came after Australia turned up the heat on the rebels, saying: “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict. It is time for these bodies to be brought home and it’s time for an investigation into who is responsible for this atrocity to begin.”

Video: Aftermath of MH17 crash

The chaotic recovery mission was given a further knock today after the refrigerated train wagons suffered a power outage last night.

An engineer told the Associated Press that the power had been off overnight but that the cooling system was back up and running by Monday morning.

There are also fears that some bodies may have been vaporised by the engines after the Malaysia Airlines flight shattered on impact.

Michael Bociurkiw, from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said: "We're looking at the field where the engines have come down.

"This was the area which was exposed to the most intense heat. We do not see any bodies here. It appears that some have been vaporised."

Pictures from the OSCE show that Dutch investigators, which have arrived at the crash site, have been able to reach the train and are being accompanied by armed rebels.

Dutch forensic expert Peter Van Vliet has examined the corpses commenting: "I think the storage of the bodies is (of) good quality," AFP reports.

Officials are expected to monitor the train later today, amid efforts to try and get it moved to another location.

"The separatists have said that international observers must be present when the train leaves... the Dutch experts are international observers... they can fulfill that role," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.

Pressure is mounting on Russia to use its influence to help rein in the pro-Moscow militants and to convince them to accede to UN-backed experts accessing the site to conduct an independent investigation.

President Putin said Russia would cooperate with plans to allow the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation a “safe and secure” entrance.

“We need to do everything to ensure the security and safety of the observers and the experts working at the crash site,” he said.

He also criticised the politicisation of the downing of MH17, condemning what he described as the exploitation of the incident for “mercenary objectives.”

The US, Britain and Australia are among the most vocal countries to denounce what is seen as Russia’s “delaying tactics” in dealing with the situation in eastern Ukraine, with rebels alleged to have tampered with evidence and moved bodies, including taking the Boeing 777’s black box recorders.

An Australia-proposed UN Security Council resolution will go under a vote later today, which will demand that UN investigators are given “full and unfettered” access to the crash site.

Speaking on Russia tweaking the draft resolution, British Ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, said: “It looks like a typical Russian delay in tactics, and one can guess why they want delay.”

Refrigerated wagons at Torez in Ukraine, where the bodies of MH17 victims are being held Refrigerated wagons at Torez in Ukraine, where the bodies of MH17 victims are being held International investigators are now trying to make their way to the crash site, with the first group – Dutch and Malaysian – having already arrived in rebel-held region.

Two German experts have arrived in Kiev and are attempting to make their way to eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Four Germans were among the victims of the downed flight MH17.

Six experts from Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are also in the Ukrainian capital waiting to be deployed to the crash site 300 miles away. Two serving officers from the Metropolitan Police are also there to help identify victims, with both teams "ready to assist."

"They are waiting to see just what format of investigation is established," a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said.

READ MORE: Pro-Russians accused of blocking access
Vital clues may have been moved, experts say
Victims’ bodies bundled in black bags
'Make Putin's oligarchs pay'
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us