UK & World News

  • 22 July 2014, 11:50

MH17 Crash Victims' Bodies Arrive At Station

A train carrying many of the victims of flight MH17 has arrived in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, where the bodies will be handed over to Dutch officials.

The refrigerated wagons made the 186-mile (300km) journey from Torez overnight, after armed separatists who had been guarding the carriages allowed them to leave.

Inside were up to 280 bodies, which will now be flown to the Netherlands where two-thirds of the 298 victims came from.

The train's arrival comes after rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine handed over the black boxes from the downed passenger plane to Malaysian experts.

As the flight recorders were placed on a desk, Aleksander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, told a packed room at the separatists' headquarters: "Here they are, the black boxes."

Malaysian Colonel Mohamed Sakri said the boxes, which may hold crucial evidence, are "intact, although a bit damaged".

However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned evidence had been interfered with on an "industrial scale", saying there is "still a long, long way to go".

"After the crime comes the cover-up," he added.

As the diplomatic fallout from the disaster continues, EU foreign ministers will discuss imposing new sanctions on Russia.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We have an opportunity to send a very clear message to Russia. We're obviously pleased there's been movement on the repatriation of victims and that some access has been granted to the site.

"But we mustn't forget the overall context. This terrible incident happened because of Russia's support of the separatists in eastern Ukraine and because of the flow of heavy weapons from Russia into Ukraine, and we have to address that."

Moscow has called for the investigation into the shooting down of the plane to be led by the "international community" and not Ukraine, after yet more accusations were traded between Russia and Ukraine over who is to blame.

Lyudmila Vorobyeva, the Russian ambassador to Malaysia, told a news conference the probe should be led by the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organisation.

"The rebels, as we understand, do not trust the government of Kiev," said Ms Vorobyeva.

"That's why they were reluctant to hand over anything (including) the black boxes."

She added that audio recordings of rebels admitting shooting down the plane are "fake" and a "compilation of different conversations".

Meanwhile, a ceasefire within a six-mile (10km) radius of the crash site will be put in place so international investigators can examine the wreckage of the Boeing 777 that was shot down near Grabovo last week.

It comes after fighting between separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups flared in Donetsk, some 40 miles (60km) from the crash site.

Health officials said four people were killed in Monday's clashes, while rebel military commander Igor Strelkov said up to 12 of his men died in the fighting.

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