An Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
monitor speaks to journalists at the crash site.
International monitors say they have been allowed to see
more of the site where a Malaysian airliner crashed in
rebel-held eastern Ukraine, though gunmen still stopped them
approaching some of the wreckage.
In sometimes tense scenes with pro-Russian rebels clearly
uncomfortable at having observers and the press present, a
top official at the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe said access had improved since they arrived on
Securing the site and preserving evidence is crucial for
investigators to try to piece together what, and who, caused
the airliner to plunge into the steppe on Thursday, but some
officials suggest the scene has already been compromised.
"We have now had the possibility to see a bit more of this
rather large scene. We have observed the situation here as it
was presented to us," said Alexander Hug, deputy chief
monitor of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine.
"We also had the possibility to speak to those who are in
charge here, and ... to speak to inhabitants of a local
He told reporters: "As in any job, the cooperation improves
over time ... we had better access today."
On Friday, a group of monitors were hampered in their work by
"armed personnel who acted in a very impolite and
unprofessional manner. Some of them even looked slightly
intoxicated", an OSCE spokesman said.
On Saturday, gunmen formed a line along the edge of the
fields where the plane crashed, killing all 298 people on
board, ostensibly to show they were securing the site.
The pro-Russian rebels, who want independence for Ukraine's
eastern Donbass region where most people speak Russia, say
they have not touched the site, but at least some of their
number at the scene said some bodies had been taken away in
World leaders have called for a rapid investigation into
Thursday's airliner disaster, which could mark a pivotal
moment in deteriorating relations between Russia and the
The United States and other powers said a surface-to-air
missile appeared to have been fired from rebel-held
But some officials fear time may be running out to ensure a
thorough and forensic investigation.
"I don't think it's too late. But with each passing day you
lose a chance to protect and secure the scene and the
bodies," said Michael Bociurkiw, an OSCE spokesman, adding he
thought the security presence at the site had been laid on
for their visit.
"It's a huge area. You need a lot of people to protect the
bodies and give them the dignity they deserve."
He told a later news conference that the monitors had, for
the first time, seen rescue workers removing bodies from the
site and putting them in bags.
"Typically these bags were placed on both sides of the closed
roadway. Some of the bags were open and exposed to the
elements. We don't quite know why. We counted today 55 body
bags and 50 marked locations of bodies," he said.
After meeting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who said
he condemned interference with work at the crash site, Dutch
Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the Netherlands was
"angry, furious" by news that bodies were being moved around
and the site was not being "treated properly".
He said the Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens on the
flight from Amsterdam, would not rest until those
responsible, and those that supported them, were brought to
Ukraine says Russia played a decisive role in shooting down
the plane, and called on Moscow to hand over what it said was
the Russian crew of the SA-11 radar-guided missile system.
Russia and pro-Russian rebels deny any role in the disaster.
Locals wandered over a part of the crash site on the
outskirts of the village of Rozsypne, leaving flowers and
toys on the wreckage. A Reuters witness saw that some of the
debris had been moved since Friday.
The rebels accused Ukraine of preventing international
investigators from arriving and called for help from Moscow
to recover bodies starting to rot after two days in summer
"There's a grandmother. A body landed right in her bed. She
says 'please take this body away'. But we cannot tamper with
the site," rebel leader Aleksander Borodai said.
"Bodies of innocent people are lying out in the heat. We
reserve the right, if the delay continues ... to begin the
process of taking away the bodies. We ask the Russian
Federation to help us with this problem and send their