Ukraine rebels move bodies of MH17 victims to Donetsk

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:27 pm IST

Published - July 20, 2014 06:48 pm IST - Kiev

A woman looks at a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 km from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, on Sunday.

A woman looks at a refrigerated train loaded with the bodies of victims, in Torez, eastern Ukraine, 15 km from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, on Sunday.

Pro-Moscow insurgents on Sunday loaded 198 bodies recovered so far from the debris of the downed Malaysian jet into a refrigerated train, even as international pressure mounted for unfettered access to the crash site in Ukraine’s rebel-held region.

The packed bodies were loaded into wagons at a station in the town of Torez, some 15 km from the crash site, and the train left for the rebel-held Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Ria Novosti news agency reported.

The smell at the station was unbearable and separatists guarding the grisly cargo had pledged not to move the bodies until “international experts” arrive, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said.

The train, however, left the station and its first destination is the town of Illovaisk, in the Donetsk region, from whence it will go to the region’s capital Donetsk.

There are a total of 198 bodies on the train, according to OSCE monitors who inspected the train ahead of the departure. Armed rebels were guarding the train.

OSCE monitors escorted by armed rebels appeared on Sunday to have been granted greater freedom to examine the crash site.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 298 people was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur as it was downed on Thursday between Krasni Luch in Luhansk region and Shakhtarsk in the neighbouring region of Donetsk.

It is believed that flight MH17 crashed after being hit by a surface-to-air missile fired from the rebel-held area. All 298 people on board were killed.

The Ukrainian government and pro-Moscow rebels have been trading blame for the downing of the airliner.

Western countries have criticised the pro-Russian rebels in the area for restricting access to the crash site.

Indiscipline and chaos ruled at the crash site in the last two days.

The U.S. State Department said there had been multiple reports of bodies and aircraft parts being removed, and potential evidence tampered with.

Meanwhile, France warned Russia of “consequences” at the E.U. if Moscow did not “immediately take the necessary measures”, after the leaders of France, Germany and Britain held a conference call.

World leaders have demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to persuade the rebels to hand over the victims and allow international investigators unfettered access to the crash site.

Raising the prospect of fresh E.U. sanctions against Russia over the downing of the Malaysian jet, British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an article in The Sunday Times , said the West must “fundamentally change our approach” unless Moscow alters course in Ukraine.

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