MH17: Search for bodies called off due to intense fighting in Ukraine

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Recovery teams searching for bodies at the MH17 crash site have called off the operation.

Dutch Prime Minister said yesterday (Aug 7) that fighting was making it too dangerous to continue.

In all, 228 coffins with remains have been returned to the Netherlands.

Mr Mark Rutte praised the effort of the recovery mission so far, promising families the search will resume in the future when the situation is "more stable" in Ukraine.

He added: "We're stopping now, but we won't stop."

Flight MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 people on board were killed.

Mr Rutte said the international recovery team has learned that recovery efforts undertaken by local authorities immediately after the crash was more thorough than initially thought.

There was an intensive search involving 800 volunteers, the Independent reported.

"There was an intensive search in the area with 800 volunteers," - See more at:

The international team of Dutch, Australian and Malaysian recovery workers was unable to reach the site until July 31 because of fighting in the area between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatist rebels.

Remains found

Since then, it has found remains of only a few victims, despite expectations it might find as many as 80.

Those remains are being identified in the Netherlands.

A separate investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing, Mr Rutte said.

A spokesman for the Dutch Safety Board, which is overseeing that investigation, yesterday said preliminary findings due on Aug 17 won't be ready until sometime in September.

Sources: Independent, Reuters, AFP