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Victims' Items, DNA Samples Retrieved From MH17 Crash Site in Ukraine

Investigators from the Netherlands and Australia finally returned Thursday to the site in eastern Ukraine where MH17 was shot down two weeks ago.
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A small team of Dutch and Australian investigators who reached the field where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down found no additional human remains Thursday amid “very unstable” security, officials said. But the investigators at the site in eastern Ukraine were given personal belongings of 27 victims and DNA samples of 25 victims for identification, said Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the head of the Dutch recovery mission. He said the team will return to the site Friday and resume “limited” reconnaissance in a few locations.

“It is a war zone, so I hope we will still get access to the area in the coming days,” Aalbersberg told reporters.

The investigators’ return to the crash site was the first successful one in more than a week — ongoing clashes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists have made the recovery of passengers a dangerous task. Since the plane was downed by a ground-to-air missile on July 17, at least 200 bodies have been retrieved and were sent back to the Netherlands, where most of the victims were from. Aalbersberg couldn’t say exactly how many bodies of the 298 passengers aboard Flight MH17 are still unrecovered.



— Erik Ortiz