MH17 victims' phones are being answered, distressed relatives say

There have been several reports of looting at the crash site
  • @christophhooton

Grieving relatives calling the mobile phones of victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash have had found the phones being answered by strangers, it has been reported.

Relatives in the Netherlands who dialled the numbers said they were shocked to hear "eastern European-sounding voices" at the other end of the line, according to De Telegraaf, appearing to confirm that looting has taken place on the crash site.

There have been several reports of victims' belongings being tampered with or removed, with debris being scattered over a 50 square kilometre area which has not been properly cordoned off.

Anyone with accreditation from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic can access the site, with the Sydney Morning Herald claiming that there has been a notable lack of phones, wallets and jewellery at the scene.

Earlier in the week, a picture emerged appearing to show a militiaman rifling through a victim's personal effects and putting a ring in a bag.

Telephone companies have cancelled the phone subscriptions of some victims, waiving the usual requirement for a death certificate.

Video: Bodies will now be formally identified

The Dutch government has asked for the UK’s assistance in examining the "black box" flight recorders retrieved from the Malaysia Airlines flight, which was shot down over eastern Ukraine last week, with David Cameron announcing on Twitter that British investigators based at Farnborough in Hampshire will be tasked with retrieving vital data from the two recorders.

The black boxes were initially withheld from international air accident officials by the Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine who have been widely accused of bringing down the plane.

Read more: Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?