mh17: fighting delays afp officers, experts access to malaysia airlines crash site in eastern...
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DESCRIPTIONUpdated July 28, 2014 00:56:04A team of unarmed federal police officers have been forced to delay th...
MH17: Fighting delays AFP officers, experts access toMalaysia Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine
Updated July 28, 2014 00:56:04
A team of unarmed federal police officers have been forced to delay their planned visit to theMalaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash site in eastern Ukraine after the area was declared unsafe.
The Australian Federal Police officers are among a team of international experts in the region aspart of the mission to secure the site and recover crash victims' remains.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said the Australian officers would join a Dutch contingent at the sitefrom Sunday evening.
However, Alexander Hug, the deputy head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation inEurope's (OSCE) monitoring mission in Ukraine, says the local conflict has affected the start of themission.
"We heard indications there's fighting going on. We can't take the risk," he said.
"The security situation on the way to the site and on the site itself is unacceptable for our unarmedobserver mission.
"Fighting in the area will most likely affect [the] crash site."
Analysis: ABC correspondent Stephen McDonell in eastern Ukraine
On our way to the MH17 crash site we ran into a battle for control of the area around it.
Local villagers warned that there were tanks and armoured personnel carriers ahead and soonenough they were driving down the street.
Just 12 kilometres from the aircraft wreckage we watched as Ukrainian government troops tookback a village from Russian-speaking rebels.
We watchedÂ people there and we can hear the machine guns and artillery in the distance andthey've pulled together a fewÂ belongings and they're trying to get out of the region, trying to hailtaxis or any cars travelling out towardsÂ Donetsk.
There's a major offensive on atÂ the moment from the Kiev government troops and it looks likethey're trying to actually, bit by bit, retake this entire area from theÂ rebels and that crash sitehasÂ now been cut off from Donetsk. This appears to be a major offensive to cut off rebel supplylines.
Australian and European police have suspended their on-site investigation because of safety fears.
To tell the truthÂ they can't get in there now and it's hard to see when they will be able to get inthere again, certainly not from Donetsk.
There's lots of fighting going on so I just can't see how they're going toÂ be able to mountthisÂ investigation again in the near future. It's just going to beÂ very difficult indeed.
In The Hague, Dutch authorities confirmed that their team would remain in Donetsk, a rebelstronghold about 60 kilometres from the crash site, rather than head to the impact zone.
"Because of fighting in the area, the situation is still too unstable to work at the crash site," theDutch justice ministry said.
The plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing 298 people including 38 Australiancitizens and residents.
Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak had earlier said an agreement had been reached withseparatists to give international police access to the site so investigations into the disaster couldbegin.
A statement issued by Mr Razak's office said the agreement with separatist leader AleksanderBorodai would "provide protection for international crash investigators" to recover human remainsand ascertain the cause of the crash.
Ukrainian forces have been pressing their military campaign against pro-Russian separatists, withshelling and explosions heard around Donetsk on Saturday.
However, Ukraine's foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin said it was rebels who had prevented theinternational team from reaching the crash site.
"Terrorists back to their normal outrageous practice: they don't allow OSCE monitors to access the#MH17 site claiming Ukraine army is fighting nearby," Mr Klimkin said on Twitter.
"Their argument is fake. Ukraine is committed to its unilateral ceasefire within a 40 km zone."
'Risky' mission necessary to 'do the right thing' by grieving families
On Sunday afternoon the Prime Minister said the AFP officers will work as part of a Dutch-ledhumanitarian mission to recover remains, seek to remove wreckage and help investigators.
"Our objective is to get in, toÂ get cracking, and to get out," he told a press conference.
"We will stay as long as we canÂ to do a professional job, butÂ we won't stay a moment longerÂ thanwe need to.
"OurÂ whole and sole purpose is toÂ claim our dead and bring themÂ home as quickly as we canandÂ that is what this next phase ofÂ operation bring them home isÂ all about."
There will be a total of 49 police on site, 11 of whom will be Australian, although that number isexpected to increase over the coming days.
Mr Abbott has acknowledged it is a "risky" move but says his advice is that it is safer for the policenot to be armed.
"Frankly, we need to be preparedÂ to take some risks in order toÂ do the right thing by ourdeadÂ and by their grieving families," he said.
"But we want to minimise risk,Â we want to mitigate againstÂ risk, and the overwhelming advice ...is that the best way toÂ do that is through thatÂ unarmed, police-ledÂ humanitarian mission."
Police say the mission will be subject to daily security assessments.
Mr Abbott says he would be "very surprised" if the operation takes longer than a few weeks.
"The point I want toÂ make is that there isÂ tremendous goodwill from everyone involved," he said.
"I think there is near universalÂ acknowledgement that anÂ atrocity has taken place... andÂ thatwhatever the reasons,Â whatever the rights and wrongs,Â that we owe it to the dead andÂ to thegrieving families to do what we can to get the remainsÂ home as soon as possible."
A total of 49 AFP officers have already flown to Kharkiv in readiness to help secure the crash site.
Australian parents in emotional visit to crash site
An Australian couple who lost their daughter on the downed plane earlier became the first relativesof victims to visit the scene.
Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski's 25-year-old daughter Fatima was on board MH17.
Ms Rudhart-Dyczynski said her daughter, an aerospace engineering student, used to want to be apilot and had been "full of life".
Mr Dyczynski wore a white T-shirt with a picture of Fatima, who was making her way to Australia onthe doomed flight to see her parents.
Authorities had warned the Perth couple not to travel toÂ eastern Ukraine, fearing theyÂ could getcaught up in theÂ ongoing conflict betweenÂ pro-Russian separatists andÂ Ukrainian governmentforces.
Pro-Russian rebels have continually caused problems during the investigation, blocking access to thesite and harassing recovery workers.
The couple had first travelled to the Netherlands to provide medical and DNA samples to Dutchinvestigators examining human remains flown over from the site.
Forensic experts have identified the first of the victims from the plane as a Dutch citizen.
The Dutch justice ministry has not publicly released the identity of the victim, but said their familyand the mayor of where they lived had been informed.
A total of 227 coffins with the remains of people of 17 nationalities have been flown to theNetherlands for formal identification.
Photo: A Malaysian air-crash investigator works at the crash site. (Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: Military men carry a coffin containing the remains of a victim of downed Malaysia Airlinesflight MH17, during a ceremony at Eindhoven Airbase. (AFP: Robin van Lonhuijsen)
Photo: An Australian flag catches the wind alongside the multitude of flowers left at Schiphol Airportin Amsterdam. (Audience submitted: Ellyn Cook)
Photo: Flowers left by parents of an Australian victim of the crash, are laid on a piece of the
Malaysia Airlines plane MH17, near the village of Hrabove in eastern Ukraine, on July 26, 2014.(AFP: Bulent Kilic)
Photo: A convoy of hearses, bearing remains of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17crash, are escorted along the A27 highway by military police to Hilversum, Netherlands, where theywere to be identified by forensic experts, July 23, 2014. (Reuters: Marco de SwartÂ )
Photo: Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (L), Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, (C), and wife Lynne,(R), watch as MH17 victims return to Eindhoven Airbase, the Netherlands, July 23, 2014. (AAP: DanHimbrechts)
Photo: Members of the Ukrainian Emergency Ministry carry a body at the crash site of MalaysiaAirlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region on July 19, 2014.(Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: A Twitpic from Australia's ambassador to Russia, Paul Myler, showing flowers and a notereading 'Forgive us' left outside the Australian embassy in Moscow, on July 19, 2014. Thirty-sixAustralian citizens and residents were among 298 killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 wasshot down over Ukraine. (Twitter: Paul Myler (@PosolAustralia))
Photo: People gather during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, inKuala Lumpur on July 19, 2014. (AFP: Manan Vatsyayana)
Photo: Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitors speak with a pro-Russian
separatist at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
(Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: The wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is pictured two days after crashed in asunflower field near the village of Rassipnoe, in rebel-held east Ukraine. (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: A pro-Russian separatist holds a stuffed toy found at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flightMH17 near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, July 18, 2014. (Reuters:Maxim Zmeyev )
Photo: Firefighters extinguish a fire, on July 17, 2014, amongst the wreckage of Malaysia Airlineflight MH17 that crashed near Shaktarsk, Ukraine. (AFP: Alexander Khudoteply)
Photo: A pro-Russian separatist walks on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777(Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: A firefighter sprays water to extinguish a fire amid the smouldering wreckage. (AFP:Dominique Faget)
Photo: An emergency worker looks at the mangled wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17
plane that crashed in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. (Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: Firefighters extinguish a fire among the wreckage as night descends on the crash scene.(AFP: Alexander Khudoteply)
Photo: People walk among the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane that crashed in theDonetsk region of Ukraine, killing 298 people. (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the pro-Russian separatist "Donetsk
People's Republic", visits the crash site, flanked by bodyguards. (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: Men stand next to the wreckage of the plane, which disappeared from radar screens beforeplunging to earth. (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: People walk past some of the wreckage. Early speculation pointed to a surface-to-air missileshooting down the plane. (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: Flowers and candles were left at a makeshift memorial outside the Netherlands Embassy in
Kiev, Ukraine. (AFP: Sergei Supinsky)
Photo: Akmar Binti Mohd Noor, 67, whose sister was onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 thatcrashed in Ukraine en route to Malaysia, cries at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. (AFP:Manan Vatsyayana)
Photo: Relatives of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 get on a bus at SchipholAirport near Amsterdam. (AFP: Olaf Kraak)
Photo: The BBC quoted one farm worker in the area as saying, "I was working in the field on my
tractor when I heard the sound of a plane, then a bang and shots". (Reuters: Maxim Zmeyev)
Photo: Passenger luggage lies near the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines plane. (AFP: DominiqueFaget)
Photo: Witness: "There was thick black smoke from a nearby factory. From my balcony I saw a planebegin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions." (AFP: Dominique Faget)
Photo: An emergency worker at the site of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash. (Reuters: Maxim
Photo: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH-17 sits at the G3 gate at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, before ittook off for Kuala Lumpur and crashed in Ukraine. (Reuters: Yaron Mofaz)
Photo: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 leaves Schiphol Airport in Schiphol, the Netherlands, on July17, 2014, before being shot down over eastern Ukraine. (AFP: Fred Neeleman)
Gallery: Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Ukraine
Topics: air-and-space, accidents, disasters-and-accidents, terrorism, unrest-conflict-and-war,federal-government, government-and-politics, australia, asia, malaysia, ukraine
First posted July 27, 2014 17:07:29