Human remains still at MH17 crash site: Aus PM

2014-07-26 10:44

Sydney - More than a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down in rebel-held eastern Ukraine human remains are still at the crash site, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Saturday.

The majority of the 298 people killed when the plane was apparently shot down by a missile were Dutch, but there were also 28 Australian nationals and nine permanent residents onboard.

Abbott is sending 190 Australian Federal Police to the Netherlands, along with a small number of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, to participate in a planned Dutch-led operation to secure the crash site.

"Yesterday [Friday] Australian officials again had access to the sites," Abbott said.

"Plainly there are unrecovered body remains in the area. And it's the presence of unrecovered remains that makes it more important than ever that an international team be dispatched to the site."

A humanitarian mission

Questioned on concerns about sending troops into the volatile situation in Ukraine, Abbott stressed that Australia's involvement in the planned mission was only to secure the remains and help the investigation.

"It is, I stress, a humanitarian mission. Others can get involved if they wish in the politics of eastern Europe, our sole concern is to claim our dead and to bring them home," he said.

"When you've got major humanitarian effort, as we have, it's normal and natural to have ADF assistance and many countries have got their defence personnel on the ground already," he added, saying this included Dutch and Malaysian military personnel.

Abbott said every day the crash site remained unsecured, there was more risk of interference and that bodies would deteriorate due to their exposure to the elements.

Aus top envoy in Ukraine

"So we do want to get this done as quickly as we humanly can and that's why we are exploring all options in Ukraine now," he added.

Abbott said Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who was in Kiev on Friday to meet with her Ukrainian counterpart, could return to the city in coming days.

He said the last of the remains of MH17 victims which have already been placed in a train and sent to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv were to be sent later on Saturday to the Netherlands to begin the process of identification and repatriation.

  • Mark Russell - 2014-07-26 10:59

    It is a major hassle that there is still evidence lying around unprocessed. There is plenty pressure being placed on Russia for the instability in this region affecting the investigation but I don't see any pressure being placed on the USA to control their Kiev forces that have continued to attack the "rebels" in the area despite the ongoing investigation. The Kiev forces even used tanks to attack the train station where the bodies were being stored. The "rebels" came under fire for Firstly moving the bodies into the refrigerated rail cars and are now being lambasted on CNN for waiting so long to take some action. What next?

  • Arthur Harding - 2014-07-26 11:22

    This whole story is disgraceful. The right thing to do would have been a cease fire to clear the incident but the fact the Putin is still sending arms over the border and helping to get the area safe for investigation and recovery is just unbelievable If I didn't know better Id say Putin is looking to start a major conflict in Europe.

      Stel Klonaros - 2014-07-26 12:20

      Your facts are wrong, try research the Ukraine story properly not only on corporate media,Joe Biden's son will become a billionaire with the newly so called self elected leaders who were 3 months ago also rebels, I don't give this regime any chance of staying in power, they are already brawling in parliament, as the old saying goes everything is not what it seems to be.

      Arthur Harding - 2014-07-26 12:28

      @VOX well bad news there bud US already stated they will not get involved as the ukraine are not considered as aly

  • Kholo Warren Jesus - 2014-07-26 11:22

    sad prayers are with all nations affected.

  • Kobus Hattingh - 2014-07-26 11:27


  • mantlekilo - 2014-07-26 12:02

    This is harsh but true ! Mortal remains are just that ...remains. They serve no purpose to man or beast (unless consumed perhaps....sorry) except to the frail human pshycie that is programmed to desire 'rest for something that is no more. Placing the lives of others at risk to recover said mortal remains is not only illogical, it is a weakness. In conclusion, if it is safe and expedient to recover remains then sure do so, but never prioritise this aspect if there is the risk of compounding the death toll.

  • Chase Cameron - 2014-07-26 12:10

    Tony Abbot should sweep his own back door clean before denouncing others. Worst PM in Australia ever.

  • Wehr Wulf - 2014-07-26 12:47

    Well done PM Abbott. I knew voting for you was the right thing. A man of good values and decency.

      Melony Brits - 2014-07-26 16:10

      Decency? LMAO you silly fool.

      Wehr Wulf - 2014-07-26 18:17

      Yes, he is, you silly dolt.

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