THE HAGUE – A team of 30 Dutch forensic experts headed on Sunday to the crash site of flight MH17 in rebel-controlled east Ukraine, Dutch officials said, despite intensifying fighting in the area.
The team was able to travel following an agreement the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe made with the pro-Russian separatists, the justice ministry said in a statement. The Dutch are in charge of victim identification and leading the probe into what caused the crash. A total of 298 people died in the July 17 disaster, 193 of them Dutch. Separatists have been accused of shooting down the Malaysia Airlines 777 by mistake. Many of the bodies have been removed.
A Dutch forensic team has been to the site already, but the forensic specialists investigating the crash have yet to go amid security concerns. A spokeswoman for the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) leading the crash investigation said that for security reasons they would not communicate about them travelling to the site until after they had been there.
A truce has been called in the immediate area around the site by both Kiev forces and the separatists, but combat has been raging just 60 kilometres (35 miles) away, with loud explosions heard at regular intervals in western and northern suburbs of rebel stronghold Donetsk.