- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

International monitors try to secure sprawling Ukraine plane crash site for investigation

HRABOVE, Ukraine (AP) - International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.

But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

The Ukrainian government and separatist rebels accuse each other of firing a surface-to-air missile at the Boeing 777 with almost 300 people aboard. Many see the hand of Russia, either for its suspected support of the insurgents or perhaps for firing the missile itself.

The government in Kiev said militiamen had removed 38 bodies from the crash site near the Russian border and taken them to the rebel-held city of Donetsk. It said the remains were transported with help from specialists with distinct Russian accents.

The rebels are also “seeking large transports to carry away plane fragments to Russia,” the Ukrainian government said Saturday.

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Dutch forensic experts begin gathering material from next of kin to identify crash victims

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Forensic teams fanned out across the Netherlands on Saturday to collect material that will help positively identify the remains of victims killed in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine. Families and friends of the dead huddled to console one another at churches, schools and sports clubs across the nation.

Altius, a small soccer club on the edge of the central city of Hilversum, was typical of scenes that played out across the Netherlands.

A couple of dozen members held a small ceremony at Altius’ clubhouse to remember a family of four killed in the crash, as the team’s flag fluttered at half-staff in the warm afternoon breeze.

Charles Smallenburg was a long-time volunteer at the club, his young son Werther a promising striker in the D1 youth team, club chairman Tom Verdam told The Associated Press after the brief get-together. Charles’ wife Therese and daughter Carlijn also died, the club said.

As Hilversum’s mayor walked away and families unlocked their bicycles behind him and cycled homeward, Verdam said the commemoration was simple, but emotional.

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Lack of radar could have prevented missile operators from realizing target was a jetliner

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