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GRABOVO, Ukraine — The parents of a young woman who was on a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet downed over eastern Ukraine visited the refuse-strewn site on Saturday, despite warnings that they would not be safe.
George and Angela Dyczynski of Perth, Australia — the first family members known to have visited the site — said they did not believe their 25-year-old daughter Fatima was dead as they walked through the field in the rebel-controlled area. George Dyczynski wore a white t-shirt with picture of his daughter and the words "We love you" emblazoned on it.
"We want to say again again and again, my daughter is not dead," Angela Dczynski said as she and her husband held a huge bouquet of flowers. "She knows mum and dad ... really fulfilled what we promised and we promised that we would come here on this field."
Angela Dczynski added that she wanted to meet the commander of the region, which is controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been fighting Ukraine’s government for months.
"Would be so good to meet him in friendship,” she said.
The couple stood and prayed amid tangled jet engines and wheels while standing on the burnt ground.
“She loved to fly," Angela Dczynski said, as both recounted stories of their daughter's life.
The U.S. says it believes the separatists — trained and supported by Russia — probably shot down the plane by mistake.
There were no investigators or guards with the family members at the site, which became an international crime scene after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on July 17. Australia lost 27 citizens on the plane. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned that it would be "ill-advised" for relatives to travel to the war-torn site.
— F. Brinley Bruton in London contributed to this story.