INVESTIGATORS from the Netherlands and Australia are patrolling the unsecured site where Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 went down as their governments prepared police detachments that will try to protect the crash area and help bring the last of the victims home.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said his country was ready to send 40 unarmed military police to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine to help investigators, while Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has said his government is close to a deal to send police. Australia has 90 federal police officers standing by in Europe.
The Boeing 777 went down on July 17 as it headed to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, killing all 298 people on board. US and Ukraine officials say it was shot down, probably by mistake, by a missile fired from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists are fighting Ukrainian government forces. Of the dead, 194 were Dutch citizens and 37 were Australian citizens or residents. Ten were from Britain.
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"This will be a police-led humanitarian mission," Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said in Kharkiv, where more remains were placed on flights to the Netherlands yesterday for identification and investigation. "And there will be body identification experts, forensic experts. And of course we will ensure that they are safe, that they will have protection."
Ms Bishop spoke to the crews of the two airplanes, an Australian C-17 and a Dutch C-130, who flew another 74 coffins from Kharkiv in government-controlled eastern Ukraine to Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
No plan for a large-scale deployment of experts and security personnel has been announced, however, and the site remained largely unsecured.
Meanwhile, the black boxes from the downed airliner have been analysed by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch and by international experts at the AAIB's headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.