Search of Ukraine MH17 crash site over: Dutch team

30th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

Dutch and international investigators have finished recovering human remains and wreckage from the MH17 plane crash site in eastern Ukraine, the mission's head said on Thursday.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner -- the majority of them Dutch -- died when it was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine last year.

"We have done everything humanly possible," in the recovery process, mission head Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said at a press conference in The Hague.

A final flight with seven coffins filled with human remains is expected to arrive in the Netherlands on Saturday.

"Many more" body parts were recovered over the last two weeks in the search near Petropavlivka, about 10 kilometres (six miles) west of Grabove where most of the debris fell, Aalbersberg said.

"Many personal belongings like watches, passports... and other documents that is of great value to the victims' families," were also recovered.

Aalbersberg did not exclude further remains or wreckage being discovered "in the coming years."

The Boeing 777 was on a routine flight between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down on July 17, 2014.

Kiev and the West claim that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists using a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Moscow. Russia has denied the charges, pointing the finger instead at Kiev.

The Netherlands has been tasked with leading the investigation into the cause of the accident and identifying the victims.

Dutch Safety Board (OVV) spokeswoman Sara Vernooij told AFP on Thursday the final report into the cause of the crash is expected to be ready around October.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Netherlands for leading the MH17 investigation.

"Let me say how much we respect the leadership of the Netherlands on the issue of the Malaysia Airlines, MH17," disaster, Kerry told reporters in Washington , where he met his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders on Thursday.

"They are leading the investigation and also leading the efforts for accountability, and that is a very significant step," Kerry said at the meeting, held at the State Department.

Koenders said he would brief Kerry on the conclusion of the repatriation mission in eastern Ukraine "and the importance of accountability."

"This is a very crucial phase we are in, the repatriation phase has been finalised... And now it's important that we go in the direction of accountability," Koenders said.

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© 2015 AFP

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