Dutch to renew search for body parts, debris at MH17 crash site
Dutch and international investigators will renew their search for body parts and debris at the MH17 plane crash site in restive eastern Ukraine, including at a location previously considered unsafe, the team's chief announced Wednesday.
“The team is in Donetsk and ready to start tomorrow (Thursday),” Pieter Jaap Aalbersberg said at a press conference in The Hague.
“Our goal is to do everything in our power to bring back human remains, personal belongings and parts of the wreckage to the Netherlands,” Aalbersberg said, speaking at the Dutch Justice Ministry.
All 298 passengers and crew onboard the Malaysia Airlines jetliner — the majority of them Dutch — died when it was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine last year.
The Netherlands has been charged with leading the investigation into the cause of the incident and identifying the victims of the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
Dutch authorities are also in charge of the criminal investigation into the crash, which took place in the midst of fierce fighting between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian separatists.
The team will now focus on two areas at the crash site including one in Petropavlivka, about 10 kilometres (6.25 miles) west of Grabove where most of the debris fell.
The Boeing 777 was flying at high altitude when it was shot down, scattering debris over a wide area.
While the fighting has abated since a February ceasefire landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a constant danger said Theo ten Haaf, who is charged with the team’s safety.
The mission is to last “a few weeks” should the security situation permit, he said.
The 30-person team includes five Malaysian investigators and one Australian.
Kiev and the West have claimed that the plane was shot down by the separatists, using a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charges, pointing the finger at Kiev.
The remains of all but two victims, both Dutch, have been identified.
In February, the rebels and Ukrainian government agreed on a truce aimed at ending a year of fighting that has claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people.
The ceasefire ended the worst of the violence but deadly clashes have continued in a handful of flashpoints.