Dutch air crash investigators have arrived in Torez in eastern Ukraine, where the remains of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crash are being stored.
196 bodies recovered from the crash site are being stored in refrigerated train wagons in Torez, and the Netherlands have dispatched three forensic investigators to the area to identify the victims.
Investigators have not yet been permitted to travel to the crash site despite promises from the pro-Russian rebels and Moscow that their inquiries would not be hindered.
However, the US state department claims that the rebels have tampered with potential evidence, and heavy machinery could be seen moving plane debris and disturbing the crash site.
Dutch banks have also taken steps to cancel the credit and debit cards of the victims of the crash after reports emerged of looting from the bodies.
All 298 people aboard the plane died after it was allegedly hit by a Soviet-built SA-11 “Gadfly” BUK missile.
The US and other countries claim that there is growing evidence that the plane was shot down by accident by the pro-Russia rebels, with the anti-aircraft missile system supplied by Moscow. However, investigators need access to the plane wreckage to determine exactly what happened.
US Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News:
“There’s [an]enormous amount of evidence that points to the involvement of Russia in providing these systems, training the people on them”
European leaders are meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of imposing further sanctions on Russian officials and businessmen in response to Russia’s inaction over the MH17 disaster.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told parliament in The Hague that all political and economic options were on the table if investigators were not granted access to the crash site, and exclaimed:
“We want our people back”
193 of the victims on board Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch nationals, and the Netherlands are leading the investigation.
31 investigators from the Netherlands, Germany, UK, US, and Australia are currently in Kharkiv, and hope to be able to access the crash site shortly.
272 bodies have reportedly been found so far.
The investigations into the crash have been hindered by the continuation of fighting in the region as pro-Russian separatists clash with government forces. The conflict is reported to have claimed more than 1,000 lives since violence erupted in April.