Ukraine Plane Crash

MH17 Victims' Bodies Seized at Gunpoint by Rebels, Put on Train

HRABOVE, Ukraine -- Armed pro-Russian rebels forced emergency workers to hand over 196 bodies recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site and then had them loaded onto refrigerated train cars, Ukrainian officials and monitors said Sunday. The rapid-fire developments came after a wave of international outrage over how the bodies of plane crash victims were being handled and fears that the armed rebels were tampering with evidence at the crash site.

Ukraine's Emergency Ministry said its workers were laboring under duress and forced to hand over the bodies. Nataliya Khuruzhaya, a duty officer at the train station in Torez, 9 miles from the crash site, said she saw emergency workers loading plane victims' bodies Sunday morning into five sealed, refrigerated train cars. Alexander Pilyushny, an emergency worker combing the crash site for body parts Sunday morning, told the AP the he and other workers had no choice but to hand the bodies over to the rebels. "They are armed and we are not," Pilyushny said. "The militiamen came, put the bodies onto the trucks and took them away."

Image: Monitors walk near a train reportedly containing MH17 victims in Torez, Ukraine
Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe walk near a train at a railway station in the town of Torez, Ukraine, on Sunday. Employees and local residents say it contains bodies of passengers of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. MAXIM ZMEYEV / Reuters




- The Associated Press