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Investigators reach Ukraine crash site

Thursday - 7/31/2014, 7:52am  ET

The head of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) mission, acting Chief Observer Paul Picard, right, walks with Vadim Artyomov, deputy governor of Rostov region, left, while visiting the Gukovo border checkpoint at Russia-Ukraine border in a small town of Gukovo, 120 kms (75 miles ) from Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The mission will be based in the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, in the Rostov-on-Don region. (AP Photo/Sergei Pivovarov)

MSTYSLAV CHERNOV
Associated Press

ROZSYPNE, Ukraine (AP) -- An international team of investigators in eastern Ukraine on Thursday reached the crash site of the Malaysia Airline Flight 17 for the first time.

Fighting along the route to the wreckage site between government troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels had for several days kept the delegation from reaching the area.

An AP journalist at the scene Thursday said it appeared to be under the control of separatist rebel fighters.

Police and forensic experts from the Netherlands and Australia are expected to initially focus their efforts on retrieving bodies still on the site and collect victims' belongings.

It remains unclear exactly how many bodies remain and what condition they are in after being exposed for so long to the elements.

A delegation from Russia's state aviation body said Thursday it also hoped to visit the site, an agency spokesman said Thursday.

Sergei Izvolsky told the AP that a delegation of Russian specialists from Rosaviatsiya was due in Kiev Thursday to participate in the investigation.

Representatives of the Dutch and Ukrainian commissions would not comment on the arrival of Russian officials. Continuing fighting has hindered access to the crash site, located in rebel-controlled territory in east Ukraine.

Ukraine's parliament, meanwhile, voted not to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Yatsenyuk had said last week he was resigning after two parties left the coalition supporting him and parliament balked at passing laws he said were essential to fund the country's war against pro-Russian separatists.


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