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Gunmen hamper international access to crash site

Saturday, July 19, 2014 - 01:58

Jul.19 - International observers say separatist gunmen in eastern Ukraine stopped them observing the crash site, where the Malaysian airliner came down killing almost 300 people from 11 countries. Sarah Toms reports.

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A team of international observers from OSCE makes its way towards the crash site of the downed Malaysian airliner. Flanked by separatist fighters, they crossed fields of sunflowers, where bodies and mangled wreckage are scattered over vast swathes of eastern Ukraine. The jet crashed in the middle of this conflict zone. Russia-backed separatists have been fighting government forces here for months. It's believed flight MH17 fell out of the sky after being hit by a surface-to-air missile from inside the rebel held area. Both sides in the conflict accuse each other of shooting it down These observers from the OSCE were hoping to assess the site to start to learn some of the answers. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE) SPECIAL MONITORING MISSION TO UKRAINE SPOKESMAN, MICHAEL BOCIURKIW, SAYING: "We have to work very quickly to see what's going on in terms of safety and security of the perimeter, the state of the bodies, the souls that died, the wreckage, and also the black boxes. Our reporting , which we will do tonight will help the officials at a higher level decide on the next course of action." But despite assurances from the rebels, access was limited and controlled by armed men. These monitors couldn't find anyone to talk to about the plane's two black boxes and villagers could be seen removing pieces of wreckage. MH17 was carrying 298 people on board as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Now among the debris, makeshift white flags mark where their bodies lie. One hundred are still missing. Much of the wreckage was burned beyond all recognition but here a child's books and belongings. Poignant reminders that 80 children were among the dead.

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Gunmen hamper international access to crash site

Saturday, July 19, 2014 - 01:58