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MH17 crash: Dutch officials examine bodies amid fighting in Ukraine

Posted on Jul 22 2014 | IANS

Kiev/Moscow, July 21 : A Ukrainian train, carrying bodies of passengers from the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight, Monday left from a station near the accident site after negotiations with the pro-Russian rebels who hold the area, even as fighting continued unabated in eastern Ukraine.

Officials said the train, transporting 280 bodies, would go to Ukraine's Kharkiv city, but it could not be confirmed, BBC reported.

Pro-Russian separatists, who are in control of the crash site in Donetsk region, had placed the remains of the passengers of flight MH17 in refrigerated carriages at Torez station.

The train's departure came after tough negotiations between international investigators and the separatists to allow the bodies to leave the rebel-held area.

Dutch coroners earlier Monday examined the bodies of the passengers, while Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman announced that search operations had ended at the crash site. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a ceasefire in the vicinity of the crash site, as fighting raged elsewhere.

Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Reports indicated are that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said that initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.

Meanwhile, fighting continued with dozens reportedly killed in Donetsk city during a fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian troops.

Explosions rocked the Donetsk city which came under heavy Ukrainian tank and artillery fire. Efe news agency quoted rebel leader Andrei Purguin as saying: "There are dozens of dead in the city, mostly civilians."

Xinhua reported earlier Monday that at least three people were killed as heavy fighting in Donetsk between insurgents and government troops broke out Monday even as an international team comprising experts from the Netherlands, the US and Germany arrived to investigate the MH17 crash.

The UN Security Council was expected to meet later Monday to debate an Australian proposal backed by France demanding that the rebels allow free, secure access to the crash site.

Australia, which had 28 citizens on board flight MH17, has demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a parliamentary session Monday the priority was to recover the bodies of his fellow countrymen without any hinderance.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday promised to do everything to put an end to the Ukrainian conflict in a peaceful manner.

In a statement, he said that the country would do everything to move the conflict in eastern Ukraine from the current military phase to the negotiating phase, with the parties using peaceful and diplomatic means alone.

Responding to the MH17 crash, Putin reiterated Russia's stance with regard to the current situation in Ukraine and warned that no one should use the tragedy to pursue their own political goals.

He said the mere presence of representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as representatives of the emergencies ministry of Ukraine and others, was not enough.

"We need more, we need a fully representative group of experts to be working at the site under the guidance of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation), the relevant international commission," Putin said.

"We must do everything possible to ensure their complete and guaranteed safety and provide them with the humanitarian corridors they need for their work," he added.

On Saturday, Ukraine had accused Russia and pro-Moscow rebels of destroying evidence to cover up their guilt in the shooting down of the Malaysian plane.

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