Forensic team at MH17 crash site

A pro-Russian rebel throws a hat to his comrade as the convoy of the OSCE mission approaches near the village of Rassipne, Ukraine (AP)

A pro-Russian rebel throws a hat to his comrade as the convoy of the OSCE mission approaches near the village of Rassipne, Ukraine (AP)

First published in National News © by

An international forensic investigation team has now reached the site of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site in Ukraine.

Fighting in the area had previously thwarted attempts of investigators to get to the site in eastern Ukraine where the Boeing 777, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17 with the loss of 298 lives, including 10 Britons.

The task of the international team, who have been accompanied by representatives of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will be to recover remains of the victims.

Although transport planes have already flown a number of bodies from the scene to the Netherlands, it is thought there could be as many as 80 bodies still on the site.

The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is leading the international investigation, said that examination of the wreckage, which will allow investigators to gain important insights into the type of weaponry which brought down the plane, would, hopefully come later.

A board spokeswoman went on: "The team on the site has just the one task - retrieving bodies. The DSB is hoping to be able to get on to the site, but is has to be safe to do so. They have to be able to move around freely."

Shortly after the crash, members of the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) flew to the Ukraine capital Kiev to assist in the investigation.

Once the aircraft's black box recorders were recovered they were taken to the AAIB's headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire where they were studied by an AAIB team and international experts.

Within a short time the DSB was able to announce that valid information had been received from the black box cockpit voice recorder and the black box flight data recorder, even though both had been damaged.

Other UK presence in Ukraine has come in the form of two police disaster victim identification officers. One was sent to Kiev supporting the British Embassy by providing advice and guidance in relation to the recovery of the bodies and management of the scene.

The other officer has been deployed to the Ukraine city of Kharkiv with 30 other disaster victim identification professionals from the international response to arrange for reception of the bodies.

The DSB spokeswoman said: "We had hoped by now to produce an interim report into the incident but we are going to need some more time yet. The situation is very complex."

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