Dutch break off mission at Ukraine crash site
The Netherlands is breaking off its repatriation mission at the site of the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, prime minister Mark Rutte said on Wednesday evening.
Rutte was speaking at a hastily convened press conference and said it is 'too dangerous' to continue the mission to find human remains and personal belongings of the victims who died when the plane came down in eastern Ukraine.
'We do not want to lay our people open to unnecessary risks,' Rutte told the assembled Dutch media.
Fighting continues around the site between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia rebels.
There are also fears of a Russian invasion with reports of troops amassing on the border.
Rutte said both considerations led to the postponement of the mission.
A small team will remain at the crash site and local people can still help with the collection of personal belongings, Rutte said.
He emphasised that the mission has not been halted but postponed. 'We are stopping for now, but we are not stopping,' he said. 'When the situation is safe enough, investigators will return.'
A military plane is expected to land at Eindhoven airport on Thursday carrying the personal belonging that have been held in the Ukraine town of Charkov.