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    Jul 21, 2014

    Bodies from crash site removed but in limbo


    PRO-RUSSIAN rebels in Ukraine yesterday loaded scores of bodies from the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 into train wagons as grieving families clamoured to have their loved ones brought home.

    Ukrainian emergency responders, working under the watchful eyes of armed rebels, had recovered about 200 bodies but were forced to turn them over to the separatists, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, said.

    Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found the corpses packed into a series of refrigerated train wagons at a station in the town of Torez, some 15km from the crash site.

    Spokesman Michael Bociurkiw described the stench at the station as "almost unbearable".

    Officials believed that 38 of those bodies were taken to the morgue in Donetsk, a regional capital that is controlled by separatists. Reports said that 192 bodies were in the train cars.

    A senior rebel official, Sergei Kavtaradze, said the bodies would not be moved until it had been decided what to do with them.

    Meanwhile, a separatist leader said items thought to be the voice and data recorders from the airliner had been found.

    "Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk and they are under our control," Aleksander Borodai, prime minister of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, said.

    Reporters found the scene of the tragedy in Grabove largely abandoned yesterday, with all the bodies removed from the main impact site and the discarded gloves of emergency workers scattered around.

    Near the blackened piles of mangled wreckage lay the scattered possessions of the victims: suitcases torn open, passports, books, children's toys.

    What happens to the remaining bodies of the 298 killed in the apparent shooting down of the MAS plane on Thursday has become of primary concern after they lay for days rotting in cornfields.

    Across the globe, relatives in the dozen countries whose citizens were killed when the Boeing 777 disintegrated as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, pleaded for the bodies to be brought home.

    "At this current moment, I hope the world can assist the families to bring back the remains," Zulkifli Abdul Rahman, brother-in-law of one of the cabin crew members, said in Kuala Lumpur.

    "Her husband has told the children (a boy, six, and a girl, three) that their mother won't come back: 'Mummy is not coming back. The plane she was on has exploded,' " he added.

    At least 80 of those killed on Flight MH17 were children, including three infants.