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Dutch team at MH17 crash site to collect more remains

Monday, February 2, 2015 - 19:29
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A Dutch team is at the MH17 crash site in war-torn Ukraine to collect more remains of the 298 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines jetliner crashed in July, officials said on Monday.

[THE HAGUE] A Dutch team is at the MH17 crash site in war-torn Ukraine to collect more remains of the 298 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines jetliner crashed in July, officials said on Monday.

"At the moment there's a small team at the crash site," Dutch defence ministry spokeswoman Marloes Visser told AFP.

"They're there to pick up body parts which have been collected by local authorities at a particular spot," Mr Visser said.

Most of those on board the Boeing 777 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17 were Dutch, and just three of the dead have yet to be identified by forensics experts in the Netherlands.

Experts hoped the latest remains could help with the identification of the final three, Dutch news reports said.

Winter conditions meant the team will not search the area and the remains are to be flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday, Visser said.

Their job has also been complicated by heavy fighting in the nearby key Ukranian town of Debaltseve, in the escalating conflict that has left at least 5,100 people dead since April.

Mr Visser said the Dutch team "is not armed as they aren't part of the conflict".

Kiev and the West have claimed that the airliner was shot down in the conflict-torn area by separatist fighters using a BUK surface-to-air missile supplied by Russia. Moscow denies the charges, pointing the finger at Kiev.

Dutch experts last year repatriated parts of the plane to be reconstructed as part of a probe into what caused the crash.

The Netherlands has also kept a small permanent team in Kharkiv over the last few months.

AFP