Blasts as experts finally reach MH17 crash site in Ukraine
Explosions rang out near the crash site of downed flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday as international investigators arrived for the first time in nearly a week.
This comes after Kiev announced a surprise one-day halt to its offensive against rebels.
A small team of Dutch and Australian experts accompanied by international monitors reached the vast site of the doomed Malaysia Airlines jet after days of fierce fighting between government forces and rebels had stopped them reaching the area.
The Dutch justice ministry said the team was so far only a “reconnaissance” mission but would hopefully pave the way for more experts to visit soon.
But in a sign of the continuing insecurity, an AFP team following some minutes behind the convoy heard loud blasts just a few kilometres away from the site and saw black smoke rising from a village close to where some of the plane wreckage is lying.
Ukraine’s military had earlier announced a “day of quiet” across the entire east after a plea from UN chief Ban Ki Moon to halt fighting in the area of the crash.
Kiev — which has continually blamed rebels controlling the site for blocking the probe — warned however that insurgents had continued shelling its troops positions around the region.
Meanwhile, on a visit to the Netherlands, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed for an “immediate cessation in and around the crash site by both Ukraine and separatist forces”.