October 31, 2014 / 4:38 PM / in 3 years

Dutch team recovers human remains from MH17 crash site: PM

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A Dutch team took advantage of a pause in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine on Friday to recover human remains from the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site, the Dutch prime minister said.

Members of the recovery team work at the site where the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo) in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said “the team recovered human remains from the so-called burn site” where the plane hit the ground, but provided no additional details.

It was the first time in weeks that Dutch authorities had been able to reach the site.

All 298 passengers and crew, two-thirds of them Dutch, died on July 17 when the aircraft was downed. Kiev blames pro-Russian separatists for the airliner’s destruction. Russia says a Ukrainian military aircraft shot it down.

So far, 289 victims have been identified.

Security conditions were good enough on Friday for a small Dutch team, accompanied by members of the Ukrainian fire brigade and officials with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) officials to search part of the crash site, Rutte said.

Human remains found would be sent back to the Netherlands for identification, he told a weekly press briefing.

Reporting By Anthony Deutsch; editing by Ralph Boulton

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