MH17: 'Dozens of bodies unaccounted for'

Fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine troops has prevented full access to the site.

This photo taken on 26 July 2014 shows flowers, left by parents of an Australian victim of the crash, laid on a piece of the Malaysia Airlines plane MH17, near the village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Officials say as many as 80 bodies may still be unaccounted for from the Malaysia Airlines crash.

It's been more than two weeks since Malaysia airlines flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over Ukraine with 298 people on board.

Fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine troops has prevented investigators from fully accessing the wreckage.

After weeks of resistance from rebel forces a team of 70 international experts are searching for more bodies.

Law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes in an interview on CNN said, "They're not even close to being able to resolve the issue of even recovering all of the bodies.

"Even allowing some investigators and 70 is a small number for what they would actually need from a crash site that enormous but they need to get heavy equipment in there."


A lull in fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists allowed international experts on Saturday to resume their search for human remains at the wreckage of a Malaysian airliner downed in eastern Ukraine last month.

About 70 experts worked at the site for a second successive day following an agreement on a local ceasefire by the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian rebels, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) said.

"Long day ahead. Intensive work focused on recovery (of) victims' remains," the security and rights body, which also has eight representatives at the site, said on Twitter.

Roads had for days been too dangerous to use because of heavy fighting, frustrating efforts to recover all the last of the 298 victims' remains and push ahead with an investigation into the cause of the disaster.

Ukrainian officials said this week about 80 bodies had not yet been recovered from the wreckage of the Boeing 777.

The experts, who include Dutch and Australians, recovered more remains on Friday but security was deemed "unstable and unpredictable" at the site. The 298 killed on the plane included 196 Dutch, 27 Australians and 43 Malaysians.

The United States says the separatists probably shot down the plane by mistake with a Russian-made missile. The rebels and Moscow deny the accusation and blame the downing on 17 July on Kiev's military campaign to quell the separatists' uprising.

The Ukrainian military said its forces had suffered no losses overnight in the conflict, although there was continued shooting in some areas, including tank and missile fire around the rebel-held city of Luhansk.

The military reported three cases of shooting from across the border with Russia, a charge it has leveled at Moscow increasingly often. Moscow denies such accusations, and Russia's RIA news agency quoted border guards as saying nine shells had been fired from Ukrainian territory onto Russian soil.