Kiev, rebels agree to ‘security zone’ around crash site

Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels have agreed to set up a security zone around the crash site of a Malaysian jet that was apparently shot down in the separatist east, Ukraine’s security service chief said on Saturday. Internationally mediated talks ‘concluded with an agreement to set up a 20-kilometre security zone so that Ukraine could fulfil the most important thing, identify the bodies (and) hand them over to relatives,’ Ukrainian Security Service head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko said.

Investigators faced massive hurdles on Saturday as they sought access to the grisly crash site of a Malaysian plane in eastern Ukraine, with the area controlled by armed rebels blamed for downing the jet with a missile. Despite a hail of calls from around the globe for a swift probe into the crash, initial efforts by international monitors to gain full access to the site have been impeded by pro-Russian separatists locked in fighting with Ukraine forces.

The fate of the vital black boxes, at least one of which was reported to have been recovered, was unknown. AFP journalists at the site say dozens of mutilated corpses remained scattered around the vast area, the scale of which appears to have overwhelmed local rescue workers. While the rebels have vowed to protect the scene, they have ruled out a ceasefire and rocket-fire still rings out in the distance.


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