THE OSCE observer mission has hailed what it called the “biggest day” yet at the MH17 flight’s crash site in east Ukraine as experts were able to recover several remains and passengers’ belongings.
“I think we all agree that today was the biggest day ever in terms of the process of disaster victim recovery,” said Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine.
“It was a very, very good day. The experts out there did recover victim remains.”
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The deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, said he didn’t know exactly how many passengers’ remains were found.
“There were several found today,” Hug said.
Belongings were taken to a train in the town of Torez close to the crash site, he added.
Talks on Friday in Minsk between representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe agreed on the train going to Kharkiv outside the rebel-held zone, he added.
He said he hoped the train would be able to move “tonight or tomorrow” and “deliver personal belongings to Kharkiv”, from where they will be sent to the Netherlands for identification.
OSCE spokesman Bociurkiw described seeing major parts of the fuselage at the scene as well as many of the passengers’ belongings.
“One thing we really noticed, all of us, was lots of personal belongings, shoes and things like that,” Bociurkiw said.
He said that “significant pieces of fuselage” were also still on site, including “parts of the very rear of the aircraft”.
A convoy of three OSCE marked cars and a police vehicle arrived back in Donetsk at around 8pm local time after leaving early in the morning.
“The day was indeed intensive, it was a very hot day there in the middle of the field,” said Hug.
Security was adequate although fighting continued in the area around the site, OSCE representatives said.
“We heard some artillery shelling in the distance of the crash site but this has not affected our security,” Hug said.
He said that the OSCE intended to visit the site again on Saturday along with the experts, who are now based at Soledar northwest of the crash site.
On Saturday detector dogs and other “hi-tech gear” will be used for the first time, Bociurkiw said.