Dutch halt MH17 recovery mission due to Ukraine fighting - PM Rutte

AMSTERDAM Wed Aug 6, 2014 2:08pm EDT

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AMSTERDAM Aug 6 (Reuters) - The Netherlands is halting the mission to recover victims and debris of the MH17 Malaysia Airlines crash because of fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch prime minister said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte told journalists in The Hague the risk posed to the team of 70 Australian, Dutch and Malaysian experts was too great to continue working in the area.

"The security situation in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 crash site has worsened by the day," Rutte said. "That is making it impossible for experts to do their work."

He said it made no sense to continue the operation under the current conditions.

Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, killing all 298 passengers and crew, 196 of them Dutch citizens.

Most bodies have been recovered, but the team is still trying to find the missing victims and their belongings. An international crash investigation has yet to conduct on-site inquiries.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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