More remains of victims were recovered at the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Fighting has kept investigators from conducting a thorough probe of the crash site -- where MH17 landed in pieces after being shot down July 17 as it traveled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital. The crash killed all 298 passengers and crew on board. Remains of nine have yet to be identified.
“Several bodies of victims were found there yesterday. It was therefore decided to temporarily suspend work to remove the plane’s wreckage,” Ella Zhuranskaya, a representative of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told Russia’s TASS news agency Friday. Donetsk emergency and transport ministry representatives, Dutch investigators, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers are expected to arrive at the crash site Sunday to continue inspection, Zhuranskaya said.
The Dutch investigators had arrived this week to collect debris from the downed Boeing 777, which fell from an altitude of more than 33,000 feet after being struck by “high-energy objects,” according to a preliminary report by the Dutch government. Many of the passengers aboard were Dutch citizens. A final report on the fate of MH17 by the Dutch Safety Board is due out by the middle of 2015.
The Dutch-led investigation was threatened this week by reports of intensified fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk region. Violent fighting near the crash site had previously forced Dutch investigators to suspend work in mid-August, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
Pro-Russian rebels are suspected to be behind the downing of the civilian aircraft. The incident raised questions about why airliners were flying over a geopolitical hot spot with known anti-aircraft defense capability.