MH17 Crash Site: Investigators Cancel Visit As Fighting Continues Despite Deal For Access

MH17 Crash Site
Access to the MH17 crash site remains a concern for investigators. On Sunday, a Dutch team canceled a trip to the location due to fighting in the area.

Despite an earlier agreement between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and separatist leader Alexander Borodai granting access to the MH17 crash site, fighting in the area has led to Dutch investigators to cancel their trip to the site Sunday.

In a statement released announcing the agreement, Razak said, "I am deeply concerned that international investigators have been unable to properly deploy to the crash site because of the volatile security situation. It is imperative that we deploy a full team of investigators to ensure that all the human remains are removed from the site, identified and repatriated. Everyone who was on board MH17 must be afforded proper dignity and respect."

Razak brokered the deal with separatists for the return of the MH17 black boxes and the recovered remains to Netherlands. Razak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are schedule to meet Wednesday.

Speaking to the BBC, Alexander Hug, from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE, said, "We can't take the risk," in regard to the fighting around the MH17 crash site. The Sydney Morning Herald reported fighting between Ukraine and the separatists is occurring 60 kilometers, around 37 miles, from the crash site.

Ukrainian forces are heading to the crash site to free the area from separatists and secure access for investigators, Reuters reported. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's Security Council, told Reuters, "All our troops are aiming to get there and liberate this territory so that we can guarantee that international experts can carry out a 100-percent investigation of the site and get all proof needed to deduct the real reason of this tragedy."

As part of the agreement with separatists, Razak said Malaysia will send 68 police officers to the site Wednesday. A force of 170 unarmed Australian police also was deployed to Ukraine, with 49 officers traveling with Dutch investigators, Reuters reported. 

"Our objective is to get in, to get cracking and to get out," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.  Abbott Saturday urged secure access to the site since there are still human remains in the area.

Access to the crash site after MH17 was shot down  July 17, killing the 298 passengers and crew, remains a contentious issue. The airplane was downed near the village of Grabovo in the separatist-controlled Donetsk region.

Separatists agreed to send the remains to the Netherlands where they can be identified. To date, 227 coffins have been sent to the Netherlands and officials confirmed they identified the first MH17 victim Saturday.

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