Train with plane crash bodies leaves rebel town

2014-07-21 18:50

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Hrabove - A refrigerated train bearing the bodies of many of the 298 people killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane disaster pulled away on Monday afternoon from a rebel-held town in eastern Ukraine.

An Associated Press reporter saw the train leave from Torez, 15km from the crash site, and overheard armed separatists saying it was heading for the rebel-held town of Ilovaysk.

There was no official confirmation of that destination from the rebels.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible.

Four days after the Boeing 777 was shot out of the sky, international investigators still had only limited access to the crash site, hindered by the pro-Russia fighters who control the verdant territory.

Pressure was growing on Russian President Vladimir Putin - who the US, Ukraine and others say has armed the Russian-speaking rebels - to rein in the insurgents and allow a full-scale investigation into the downing of the plane.

Russia has denied backing the separatists.

There is great concern in the Netherlands about the bodies, since 192 of the plane's 298 victims were Dutch and another was Dutch-American. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday that repatriating the bodies was his "No 1 priority".

In Washington, President Barack Obama demanded that international investigators get full access to the crash site and accused the separatists of removing evidence.

"What exactly are they trying to hide?" he asked, a day after the US presented what it called "powerful" evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air Buk missile.

- AP
Read more on:    barack obama  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  ukraine
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