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Ukraine Plane Crash

Netherlands' Prime Minister Suspends Search for MH17 Bodies in Ukraine

The Netherlands' prime minister on Wednesday announced that recovery teams searching for victims at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster in Ukraine would suspend their efforts due to dangerous conditions. "Over the past few days, the security situation in eastern Ukraine — including the MH17 crash site — has been getting progressively worse," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement.

Flight MH17 was shot down on July 17, killing 298 passengers and crew, including 196 Dutch citizens. The Associated Press reported that 228 coffins have been returned to the Netherlands, but it isn't clear how many bodies have been returned. Rutte said he hopes to confirm the number of recovered bodies in coming weeks. Rutte said the Dutch teams had learned from a Ukrainian medical officer that many bodies were recovered before they arrived, confirming “that more work was done in the immediate wake of the disaster than we previously thought.” The teams “hope” to complete the mission, and the investigation into the cause of the crash was ongoing, but rising tensions on the ground show no signs of slowing in near future, Rutte said. "We had good days," Rutte added, but the chaos was exposing "our people to unnecessary risks."

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— Elisha Fieldstadt