MH17 Bodies Leave Ukraine Rebel Area

traA train carrying the remains of victims of the Malaysian airliner which crashed in Ukraine has arrived in the city of Kharkiv, outside rebel territory.

Flight MH17 crashed in an area held by pro-Russia rebels last Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

Meanwhile, international monitors say parts of the wreckage were changed and cut into since they first saw them.

Western nations say there is growing evidence the rebels shot down the plane using a missile supplied by Russia.

Russia has suggested Ukrainian government forces are to blame.

The remains will now be flown from Kharkiv to the Dutch city of Eindhoven, arriving today, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

Most of those who died in the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 were Dutch.

The bodies will then go to a facility in the Dutch city of Hilversum for identification – a process which could take months, Mr Rutte warned.

Countries directly affected by the disaster, such as the Netherlands, Australia, and the UK, have been concerned that the crash site was not properly sealed off, with the risk that valuable evidence could go missing.

A spokesman for the OSCE monitors at the site, Michael Bociurkiw, told the BBC that major pieces of the plane had been cut into and that large parts now looked different.

Five refrigerated freight wagons carrying remains and a passenger carriage marked “Donbass-Moscow” arrived at Kharkiv-Balashovsky train station and are due to be taken to the Malyshev tank factory, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports.

There, the bodies will be loaded into refrigeration units supplied by the Dutch, the agency says.

Late on Monday the rebels in Donetsk handed over the “black box” flight recorders to Malaysian officials.

Investigators hope the devices, described as being in good condition, will provide vital clues about what happened to the plane.

The handover of the “black boxes” and the transfer of remains followed talks between the rebels and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

European Union foreign ministers are meeting to consider further sanctions against Russia over its alleged backing for the rebels – something Moscow denies.

The meeting in Brussels is thought likely to discuss expanding the list of Russian officials targeted by sanctions, but the EU has so far steered clear of targeting whole sectors of the Russian economy.

Both the EU and the US imposed sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea in March and the outbreak of hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking at a meeting of his security council yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would do “all we can” to exercise influence over the rebels. But at the same time, he called on the West to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to end the conflict. — BBC

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