Tags: dutch | halt | mh17 | recovery | efforts

Dutch Halt MH17 Recovery Efforts Because It's Too Dangerous

Image: Dutch Halt MH17 Recovery Efforts Because It's Too Dangerous
Ukrainian tanks stand guard near a field in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 07:59 AM

A Dutch official has halted the MH17 recovery efforts, citing concerns that the crash site area is not safe because of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists.

At a news conference in The Hague Wednesday, Netherlands' prime minister Mark Rutte praised the effort of the international recovery mission so far, and promised victims' families the search will resume in the future when Ukraine is "more stable."

"We're stopping now, but we won't stop," he said, according to The Associated Press.

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Flight 17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people on board. In all, 228 coffins with remains have been returned to the Netherlands, but it is not known how many victims that number represents.

Rutte said that now that the international recovery team has been able to access the site and communicate with local authorities, it has learned the recovery effort undertaken by local authorities immediately after the crash was more thorough than initially thought.

The international team of Dutch, Australian, and Malaysian recovery workers was unable to reach the site until July 31 because of fighting in the area between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels. Since then, it has found remains of only a few victims, despite expectations it might find as many as 80.

Rutte said that it now appears "fortunately that more was done after the disaster than we thought until now."

Local Ukrainian authorities carried out "an intensive search in the area with 800 volunteers, and there were many bodies recovered in those (first) days," he said.

Those remains are being identified in the Netherlands.

A separate investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, Rutte said.

Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board, which is overseeing that investigation, said preliminary findings due Aug. 17 won't be ready until several weeks after that date. Wim van der Weegen said in a telephone interview that is in part because of the difficulty investigators have had in reaching the crash site.

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A Dutch official has halted the MH17 recovery efforts, citing concerns that the crash site area is not safe because of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists.
dutch, halt, mh17, recovery, efforts
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2014-59-07
Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 07:59 AM
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