herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Diplomats in bid to secure crash scene as more bodies returned

Two military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster departed for the Netherlands yesterday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a UN team to secure the crash scene which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 - most of them Dutch citizens - were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. US officials say the Boeing 777 was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multi-national force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster.

To that end, Abbott said he had dispatched 50 police officers to London to be ready to join any organisation that may result.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop was traveling with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans to Kiev to seek an agreement with the Ukraine government to allow international police to secure the wreckage, Abbott said.

The first bodies arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and hundreds of relatives.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned yesterday after two parties quit the ruling coalition and President Petro Poroshenko signalled his support for early elections.

Yatsenyuk told the parliament in Kiev that he was stepping down after losing his allies' backing.

Former world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko's UDAR and Svoboda, a nationalist group, said they would leave the coalition and seek a snap parliamentary ballot.

hnews@herald.ie

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