Malaysia's Transport Minister Is "Deeply Concerned" About Crash Site
The Malaysian government expressed concern today that the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 is "now under the full control of separatist groups."
A Malaysian team of 133 officials and experts arrived in Kiev on Saturday morning to investigate the MH 17 crash site but they have been unable to get to the area to recover victims' remains and retrieve the aircraft's black boxes, the Malaysian government said in a statement released today.
According to the statement, armed rebels have prevented the Malaysian recovery and investigation team from getting to the wreckage of MH 17. The Ukrainian government says it is unable to guarantee the safety of international investigators in and around the site.
"Malaysia is very concerned that the sanctity of the crash site has been severely compromised," the statement read.
Bodies Recovered From Debris Field Kept in Refrigerated TrainsRebels in Eastern Ukraine today moved the bodies of 196 victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 into refrigerated trains that will stay in the rebel-held town of Torez, nine miles away from the debris field, until the arrival of an international aviation delegation, rebel leader Alexander Borodai told ABC News. A spokeswoman for the Ukrainian government told The Associated Press that armed rebels forced emergency workers to give them all 196 recovered bodies without disclosing where the bodies would be going. Armed rebels are limiting the access of rescue workers to the debris field, only allowing them to work for up to 75 minutes at a time, said Col. Andriy Lyenskol, spokesman for Ukraine's National Security Council. The Ukrainian government has prepared a separate crisis center in the government-held city of Kharkiv but has not received the bodies from Borodai's rebel forces, reports the Associated Press.
Kerry Calls for Russia to "Be Part of the Solution, Not Part of the Problem"
Evidence suggests that Russia had previously provided support to the rebels accused of shooting down flight MH 17, Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning.
"There are an enormous array of facts that point at Russia's support for and involvement in this effort," Kerry said. "Drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the backs of trucks, removing materials from the site ... This is an insult to everybody. It's really a moment of truth for Russia to step up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
Kerry's comments come as the United States Embassy in Kiev issued a statement detailing how Russia aided the rebels.
"Over the past month, we have detected an increasing amount of heavy weaponry to separatist fighters crossing the border from Russia into Ukraine," read the statement. "We also have information indicating that Russia is providing training to separatist fighters at a facility in southwest Russia, and this effort included training on air defense systems."
The embassy added that the surface-to-air missile that downed MH 17, a SA-11, was likely fired by rebels as there were no Ukrainian missile systems in the range of the debris field at the time of the strike.
The embassy also said that Ukraine has not fired any surface-to-air missiles in the conflict with separatists.
Rebels Claim They Found MH 17 Black Boxes
Borodai told ABC News that the rebels believe they have recovered the black boxes from flight MH 17 but that they are unsure of the finding and are waiting for the arrival of experts to verify the black boxes.
The items believed to be the black boxes will be protected and secured until investigators arrive, Borodai said.
Borodai also guaranteed the safety of international investigators and journalists at the MH 17 debris field. He questioned why experts had not yet arrived, suggesting that Ukraine was stalling investigations.
Victims of MH 17 Honored, Remembered Around The World
The international community has come together to mourn the 298 victims of flight MH 17.
In the Netherlands, families came together at Sunday morning church services to grieve and mourn.
"It's terrible, and everybody's hearts are bleeding and crying," Father Julius Dresme of the St. Vitus church in Hilversum told the Associated Press. "And it makes (people) restless and people feel sorrow, and feel a little anger but mostly sadness, confusion."
In Rome, Pope Francis led a prayer in St. Peter's Square for peace in Ukraine.
"I invite you to remember and to keep praying for tensions and conflicts which are going on in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in Ukraine," he said.
In Australia, the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne opened with a tribute to several delegates who were killed in the MH 17 disaster.
"It's a really important time for what we think everyone needs, which is a space to grieve and to respect the six members of our community that died on MH 17," conference co-chair Sharon Lewin said.
Among the victims who were en route to the conference was Dr. Joep Lange, a leading expert in the field of HIV/AIDS.
There were nearly 100 HIV/AIDS researchers and scientists on flight MH 17 when it was shot down over Ukraine.
Gillian Mohney, Kirit Radia, and Ali Weinberg contributed to this report.
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