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MH17 Probe Moves to Second Ukraine Site as Search Goes On

Investigators Searching Malaysian Air Flight MH17 Wreckage
Dutch experts examine the area of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crash in the village of Grabovo, some 80km east of Donetsk, on August 2, 2014. Photographer: Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

International investigators searched a second site of wreckage from Malaysian Air Flight MH17 in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine as the authorities in Kiev accused Russia of amassing troops on the border.

A team of Dutch and Australian forensic experts and police officers completed their work for today near the village of Rozsypne, Ilona de Ruyter, a spokeswoman for Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the head of the recovery mission, said in a Twitter posting. Aalbersberg will provide more information later today, she said.

The inspectors broadened their search to an area about 8 kilometers (5 miles) by road west of where the bulk of the fuselage came down on July 17, after finding more human remains and personal effects of victims yesterday. While hostilities in the area of the site were suspended July 31, Russia is increasing it presence in regions neighboring Ukraine, according to the Defense Ministry in Kiev.

“The Russians are continuing to build up men and arms near the Ukrainian border,” Andriy Lysenko, a ministry spokesman, said in televised remarks. “There is proactive aerial surveillance with violations of Ukrainian air space.”

A helicopter squadron has been deployed in the Kursk region, while 34 armored vehicles with peacekeeping insignia arrived in the Bryansk region, Lysenko said. Russia sent 10 tanks into Ukraine though uncontrolled frontier areas, he said. A duty press officer at the Russian Defense Ministry, who didn’t identify himself in line with policy, declined to comment.

Conflict Losses

About two-thirds of the 298 people who died on flight MH17, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were Dutch. The U.S. and Ukraine say the Boeing Co. 777 was most probably brought down by a missile fired by pro-Russian insurgents amid months of fighting that’s claimed more than 1,000 lives. Both Russia and the rebels blame Ukrainian forces.

A total of 227 coffins with remains have already been returned to the Netherlands. A Dutch air force plane will tomorrow fly remains discovered in the past two days to Eindhoven from Kharkiv, the De Telegraaf newspaper reported in its digital edition today.

Sniffer Dogs

The 70-strong investigation team, helped by sniffer dogs, spent 5 1/2 hours at the original Grabovo site near a chicken farm yesterday. The remains and objects found were placed in a refrigerated truck to be taken to Kharkiv.

“There, Dutch, Australian and Malaysian experts and others stand ready to perform an initial forensic scan on the recovered remains,” Aalbersberg said.

The continuing conflict in the area was highlighted around noon local time yesterday, he said, when “there was mortar fire at a considerable distance from the police officers and experts at the chicken farm.” Officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe deemed there was no threat to the search group, which continued its work.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the conflict. The U.S. and its European Union allies, though, blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for failing to rein in the insurgency and stop the war.

The U.S. and European Union have imposed a series of economic sanctions on Russia aimed at pressuring Putin to de-escalate the crisis, with the latest penalties coming last week. The new round of sanctions targeted the Russian banking, energy and defense industries.

Group of Seven countries will vote against approving new World Bank projects in Russia as punishment over Ukraine, according to three government officials with knowledge of the agreement. The action, which puts at least $1.5 billion of possible projects at risk, was decided by deputy finance ministers from the G-7 during a conference call last week, according to two of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the call wasn’t public.

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