Rescuers found 21 bodies early Monday at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, bringing the current total of recovered bodies to 272.
Ukraine's emergency services agency reportedly said that about 251 bodies and 86 body fragments had been recovered by Sunday night. The 21 additional bodies have been reportedly stored in black body bags in Hrabove, a village about 25 miles from the Russian border, where the plane was downed Thursday, after reportedly being hit by a surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board.
The bodies are expected to be dispatched in refrigerator railcars to the nearby town of Torez, about 13 miles from the crash site, where the other bodies too have been taken. Nearly 200 bodies were transported in four refrigerated boxcars on Sunday by pro-Moscow rebels, while the wreckage of the Boeing 777 was moved by cranes, leading to criticism from international observers that the site was being tampered with.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin denied claims of any tampering and accused others of exploiting the crash site to promote personal agendas.
"We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened," Putin said, according to Associated Press, or AP. "Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly said on CNN's 'State of the Union’ program that “Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists.”
According to AP, rebel leader Alexander Borodai also denied claims that the pro-Moscow rebels were trying to tamper with evidence at the crash site, which is spread across 42 square miles.
Meanwhile, the handling of the bodies by the rebels has reportedly angered Dutch victims' relatives, who are expected to meet with their king, queen and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, on Monday afternoon, to discuss their concerns.
On Monday, three members of a Dutch team arrived in Donetsk to identify disaster victims, making them the first international investigators to reach the rebel-held territory, while a group of Malaysian officials are also due to arrive in eastern Ukraine on the same day, according to Reuters.
Here's a look at the nationalities of the victims in Thursday’s disaster: 193 people from Netherlands; 43 from Malaysia (including 15 crew members); 27 from Australia; 12 from Indonesia; 10 from the United Kingdom; four from Germany; four from Belgium; three from the Philippines; one from Canada; and one from New Zealand.