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Rescue operation at Ukrainian crash zone hampered by rebels

Moscow/Kiev - More than 24 hours after the presumed downing of a Malaysian jet with 298 passengers on board over eastern Ukraine, the rescue operation in rebel-held territory was moving slowly Friday.

Members of Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service were at the scene but armed separatists were complicating their efforts, officials said.

"They hinder the work of Ukrainian specialists and said they want to bring the flight recorders and the victims’ bodies to Russia," Serhiy Taruta, the Kiev-appointed governor of the Donetsk region, said in a statement.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that separatists prevented a group of monitors from fully inspecting the site.

"They did not have the freedom of movement they need," Switzerland’s OSCE Ambassador Thomas Greminger said. He added that the observers would try to gain access again on Saturday.

A source close to the organization said that shots were fired in the vicinity of the 17 monitors.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the victims’ bodies will be brought to a laboratory in Kharkiv, a city more than 250 kilometres north of the crash site, and far from rebel-held territory.

DPA




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