MH17 crash: Dutch and Australian forensic teams fail in fresh attempt to reach debris site

The crash site has yet to be fully secured so that an investigation can get underway and the remaining bodies brought home

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The Independent Online

Plans by Australian and Dutch authorities to reach the crash site of downed flight MH17 have once again been scuppered after heavy fighting rendered it too dangerous.

International experts had hoped to secure the area and search for the remaining unrecovered bodies after an effort to do so yesterday also failed.

It follows intense fighting in a town close to the disaster site, where government forces are trying to wrestle back control of rebel-held territory.

The Dutch and Australian investigators have stopped in Shakhtarsk, a town roughly 20 miles from where MH17 came down.

According to the Associated Press, nearby shelling can be heard in the town and residents have been fleeing.

It is considered too dangerous for the experts to continue unarmed into the crash site, after a convoy of 20 cars had set off this morning.

An apartment block has also been hit by at least two rounds of artillery, it has been reported.

Eastern Ukraine has been rocked by the devastating Malaysian Airlines crash, in which the passenger plane was shot down over territory controlled by pro-Russian fighters on 17 July killing all 298 on board.

After a brief lull in fighting between the two fractions, clashes have escalated again leaving at least eight civilians dead, officials have confirmed.


Five died and 15 injured as a result of air strikes in the city of Luhansk, with three more killed in Donetsk – both are regions held by separatists militants.

Blame for the latest deaths has been thrown by both sides of the conflict, with rebels accusing Ukrainian troops of targeting residential locations, while the army says that apartment blocks are being used as shields to fire from.

Facts surrounding the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur-bound flight are still fuzzy, with Russia accused of equipping rebels with sophisticated arsenal, which it readily denies.

Satellite images recorded by the US Department of State purport to show ground scarring at multiple rocket launch sites in Russia aimed in the direction of Ukrainian military units, including crater marks where they landed.

The four-page document relates to weaponry fired between 21 and 26 July, days after the MH17 crash.

It is, the US says, proof that Russia is helping pro-Kremlin rebels to fire at Ukraine.

Meanwhile, aviation chiefs are preparing to convene tomorrow to discuss potential issues resulting from the Malaysia Airlines crash, most notably the threat to passenger planes from war torn regions being flown over.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (Iata) and Airports Council International will meet in Montreal, Canada.

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A satellite image from the US State Department that purports to shows a before and after close-up of artillery strikes

Their assembly comes as Dubai-based carrier Emirates confirms is to stop flying over beleaguered Iraq, amid concerns that Islamist militants could fire missiles to passing planes.

“This is a political animal but... the fact of the matter is MH17 changed everything, and that was very nearly in European airspace,” Sir Tim Clark, Emirates Chief Executive told The Times.

 “We cannot continue to say, ‘Well it’s a political thing’. We have to do something. We have to take the bull by the horns.”

Leader of the separatist forces, Alexander Borodai, yesterday agreed to allow international police personnel into the crash site.

A further 68 Malaysian experts will leave Kuala Lumpur for the site on Wednesday.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday: “We also need a full deployment of investigators to have unfettered access to the crash site so we can understand precisely what happened to MH17.

“I hope that this agreement with Mr Borodai will ensure security on the ground, so the international investigators can conduct their work.

“Three grieving nations have formed a coalition to secure the site. Through our joint deployment of police personnel, the Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia will work together to achieve justice for the victims.”