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Rescuers gather dead at crash site under rebel watch

GRABOVE, Ukraine (AFP) - The stench of death is now becoming almost unbearable over the wreckage of the stolen lives where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down in eastern Ukraine.

Two days after the passenger jet was apparently shot down in rebel-held territory, spraying debris and body parts for kilometres around, the focus of emergency workers and international monitors at the scene is for the remains of the 298 victims to be collected.

After lying for hours under the summer sun the bodies of some are already becoming black and bloated.

Firemen in blue uniforms pull on their gloves as they set off through fields of wheat to where makeshift markers show the location of another corpse.

There they start packing the remains of another victim into a large black body bag before carrying them away on a stretcher to a waiting bus.

All of this is being done under the watchful eyes of armed pro-Russian rebels who closely control the access to the crash site deep in their territory and fire a warning shot into the air to push journalists back.

"We are securing the zone as the experts are working there. It is standard procedure at this sort of site," the rebel commander in charge of security at the site told AFP, refusing to give his name.


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