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Dutch, Australian experts reach MH17 crash site for 1st time

Published time: July 31, 2014 10:57
Edited time: July 31, 2014 13:43
A man inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 22, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

A man inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 22, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Zmeyev)

Dutch and Australian forensic teams have reached the Malaysian Airlines crash site in eastern Ukraine for the first time, accompanied by OSCE monitors, after almost a week of trying to access the scene.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane crash in Ukraine LIVE UPDATES

However, explosions have been heard close to the area, where the delegation is currently located according to the AFP and RIA Novosti news agencies.

There were four experts in the group, who used a new route to get to where the plane was downed. They had been trying daily to get to the crash site, but were unable to due to heavy fighting between Ukrainian troops and anti-government forces.

"The goal is to reach the spot where MH17 crashed and evaluate safety on the route from Donetsk," the Dutch team said in a statement.

Anti-government forces have repeatedly accused Kiev of blocking access to the crash site by fighting in the area.

"Ukraine continued to violate the ceasefire in the MH17 crash area, not allowing OSCE observers and experts from the Netherlands and Australia to enter the area," said Sergey Kavtaradze, an aide to anti-government leader Aleksandr Boroday.

"We hope the Ukrainians will adhere to the decisions of the UN and allow observers and experts to reach the crash site and facilitate the security of the place," he said.

On July 29, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his government was ready for a ceasefire at the MH17 crash site, after repeated calls from Russia. Kiev continued its military offensive even after the UNSC urged a halt to fighting in the area last week.

The UNSC demanded that Kiev set up a no-fighting zone in the area of the MH17 crash site, in accordance with its resolution of July 21. Instead, Kiev beefed up its military forces in the region, starting an offensive in the area of the crash.

Poroshenko announced a unilateral ceasefire within a 20-kilometer radius of the MH17 crash site in a telephone conversation with the prime ministers of Netherlands and Australia, according to his press service.

The first bodies were delivered to the Netherlands on July 23, while 16 bodies of the 298 who perished are yet to be found.

The black box recorders were handed over by Boroday to the Dutch, who are leading the investigation, early in the morning of July 22. They were then handed over to experts at Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch, who began sifting through the data from the downed Boeing 777.