THE HAGUE, Netherlands – International police investigators at the MH17 crash site in war-torn Ukraine will not for now carry weapons, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Friday, August 1, as more remains were recovered.
"So far the mission leaders' assessment is to continue to work unarmed," Rutte told journalists, two weeks after the crash in which 298 people died, 193 of them Dutch and 28 Australian. (READ: MH17 armed mission 'unrealistic' – Dutch PM)
Ukraine's parliament on Thursday, July 31, ratified deals with the Netherlands and Australia allowing them to send some 950 "armed personnel" to secure the crash site amid ongoing fighting in the area between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.
Over 200 coffins have already been sent back to the Netherlands but many of the dead have yet to be recovered amid the fighting. (READ: First MH17 crash victim identified: official)
The remains recovered on Friday will be taken around 300 km (185 miles) to Kharkiv, and then flown to the Netherlands for identification.
No date has been set for a plane to fly the remains to the Netherlands.
"We are happy that we can make sure that these remains can now be sent to the Netherlands," said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the Dutch police official sent to Ukraine to head up the mission.
"We hope that this can bring comfort to the bereaved. It is a relief that our people are now at work."
The identification mission based in Donetsk will move to a new base in Soledar, northwest of the crash site. (READ: Some MH17 victims may 'never be found': police)
"There's less time needed to travel and so more time to work at the crash site itself," said Rutte.
The city of Kharkiv will remain the logistical base. – Rappler.com