MH17 crash: International experts cancel visit to disaster site amid safety concerns

Fighting was said to have broken out between pro-Russia separatists and government troops

International experts planning to visit the MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine have been forced to abandon their plans today, according to OSCE officials.

On-going fighting between pro-Russia separatists and government soldiers has reportedly rendered the trip too dangerous.

Alexander Hug, the deputy head of a monitoring team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said it would be too dangerous for the unarmed mission to travel to the area from its current location in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

It was not immediately clear where precisely clashes had broken out.

According to the Associated Press, a dozen Dutch policemen in armored SUVs had been travelling to the scene of the disaster to secure the site, which investigators complain has already been compromised.

Rebel interference and security concerns have limited investigators' access to the site. International observers say there are still remains at the scene.

 

There were 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 37 Australians on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. The separatists have been blamed by many in the international community for shooting down the plane.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a potential multi-million pound lawsuit for his alleged involvement in the disaster.

The newspaper reported that  British lawyers are preparing a class action against Putin via the American courts, which may also affect senior persons in the Russian military and politicians.

The families of victims will reportedly be invited to join the legal claim, which Western politicians have no power to prevent.

Malaysia said today that it would send police to the crash site after brokering a deal with separatists to allow international police personnel to provide protection for investigators.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said in a statement that he spoke with his counterparts from the Netherlands and Australia, and the three agreed to work together in deploying police personnel to the crash site.

Sixty-eight Malaysian police personnel will leave Kuala Lumpur for the crash site on Wednesday as part of the international deployment, the statement said.

Najib had reached an agreement with rebel leader Alexander Borodai last week to secure the handing over of the plane's black boxes and the remains of the victims, as well as to ensure safe access to the crash site.

In Sunday's statement, Najib said Boradai had “agreed to allow a deployment of international police personnel to enter the crash site.”

“So far, international air crash investigators have been unable to properly deploy across the vast crash site in eastern Ukraine and collect evidence due to on-going security concerns, including continued military activity,” the statement said.

These security concerns may be “preventing full and unfettered access to the site, and therefore a proper, independent investigation from being carried out,” it said, adding that “Malaysia is particularly concerned that some human remains may still be at the crash site.”

Australia said Sunday that it would send unarmed police to the crash site. Eleven Australian police will initially be sent Monday into the debris field, which covers 50 square kilometres (20 square miles), Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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