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MH17 disaster: Search for remains and wreckage ends

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Media captionThe BBC's Tom Burridge says forensic experts have recovered more human bones

Investigators say they have finished recovering human remains and wreckage from the site of the MH17 plane crash in eastern Ukraine.

A final flight carrying seven coffins will arrive in the Netherlands on Saturday.

Personal belongings such as watches, rings, and passports have also been found.

The Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down in July 2014, with the loss of all 298 people on board.

Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the Dutch-led mission, said the team had done "everything humanly possible" in the recovery process on Wednesday.

He said many more body parts had been discovered, and the team was hopeful the finds would allow the final two victims to be identified.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the recovery mission, said more remains had been recovered

DNA tests will be carried out on the remains when they have been returned to the Netherlands.

Investigators have not ruled out finding more remains or wreckage in the future.

'Burn sites'

The plane had been flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on 17 July when it went down over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatist leaders deny shooting it down with a missile.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The wreckages of the Malaysia Airlines jet, seen the day after it crashed, was spread over about 70 sq km
Image caption Investigators say their work has been delayed by fighting from the conflict in eastern Ukraine

A separate international crime team is investigating claims it was brought down with a Russian-made Buk missile launcher.

The Kremlin has argued that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the Malaysia Airlines crash.

The pro-Russian authorities in the city of Donetsk said on Thursday they had found a map that showed the location of Ukrainian forces in July 2014. They say the government forces had Buk missile launchers.


Image caption Parts of the plane were found 8km (5 miles) from the main debris site

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The Dutch Safety Board's final report is expected to be ready around October.

A preliminary Dutch report said the plane broke up after being penetrated by "high-velocity objects".

Forensics scientists have been working at two so-called "burn sites" - where there were large explosions when the plane came down - as well as another area of ground, reports the BBC's Tom Burridge in Donetsk.

The wreckage of the plane was spread over an area of approximately 70 sq km (27 sq miles).

The mission says its work was delayed by the continuing conflict and because the ground was frozen during the winter.

However, because of gains made by the rebels in recent months, the fighting in eastern Ukraine has moved further away from the crash site, our correspondent adds.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders is due to fly to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Friday.


298 victims from 10 countries

Image copyright Reuters
  • Netherlands: 196
  • Malaysia: 42
  • Australia: 27
  • Indonesia: 11
  • UK: 10
  • Belgium: 4
  • Germany: 3
  • Philippines: 3
  • Canada: 1
  • New Zealand: 1

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