People surround a refrigerator wagon as monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and members of a forensic team inspect the remains of victims from the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez July 21, 2014. The head of a Dutch forensic team said on Monday a train, carrying the remains of victims from the Malaysian airliner crash, should set off later on Monday to a place where "we can do our work". REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev (UKRAINE - Tags: DISASTER POLITICS TRANSPORT) - RTR3ZHT2 Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters
The chaotic Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 recovery effort stumbled again Monday, with more bodies found at the sprawling crash site but a worrisome power outage in the refrigerated train holding over 200 of the dead.
The shambolic attempts to investigate by the pro-Russia separatists who control the verdant farmland where pieces of the plane crashed to Earth have fanned widespread international outrage, especially from the nations whose citizens were on the doomed plane.
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Four days after the jetliner was shot out of the sky, international investigators still had only limited access to the crash site in eastern Ukraine. Fresh fighting marked by explosions in Donetsk — about 70 kilometres from where the train is in the town of Torez— added to the tension.
“International investigators say they won’t come here unless they are guaranteed safe passage,” Ormiston reported from the crash site.
A team of Dutch forensic experts and monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) did inspect the bodies Monday, Ormiston reported, and said the bodies were still in good condition.
The Dutch team said the train holding the bodies is set to leave Torez on Monday for a place where the experts will be able to do their work.
The scene remains "sobering," Ormiston said, with long prairie-like fields still strewn with debris from the downed plane, including wallets, handbags and even a child's note about the airplane food.
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Emergency workers piled 21 more black body bags from the blackened crash site by the side of the road Monday in Hrabove. That brought the total found to 272 of the 298 passengers and crew killed in the tragedy, according to Ukranian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The bodies were being sent to the refrigerated railcars in the nearby town of Torez, where the other bodies are being kept. But a train engineer told The Associated Press that the cars' refrigeration had been off overnight and it was not immediately clear why. The cooling system was back up and running early Monday, he said.
The smell of decomposing bodies was much more pronounced Monday at the Torez train station than a day earlier, when 196 bodies were put into the train cars. Four rebels armed with automatic weapons were standing guard around the cars.
Ukrainian officials say the plane was shot down by a mobile missile battery from a rebel-controlled area in eastern Ukraine. They said the BUK rocket launcher was supplied from Russia and operated by Russian personnel.
The U.S. and its allies have also pointed the finger at the pro-Russian rebels and at Moscow itself over the downing of the plane, although Russia has denied involvement.
Explosions shake Donetsk
In Donetsk, people fled as minibuses brought dozens of rebels into the city centre. The rebels said Ukrainian forces were trying to force them out, days after the Malaysian airliner was brought down about 60 kilometres away.
"It is dangerous near the railway station!" the Donetsk city council said in a statement on its website, asking residents in the area to stay indoors.
It said a nine-storey house had been damaged in the shelling and that transport had been halted in the area.
"In the morning there were explosions. People are extremely worried," said a local resident who gave her name as Natalya.
Donetsk is at the heart of a rebel uprising against rule by Kyiv, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to retake the city as part of what his government calls an "anti-terrorist operation" against the separatists.
Sergei Kavtaradze, an official of the rebels' self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said there were at least four tanks and armoured vehicles trying to break through into the city.
Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's military, said a military operation in the area was in an "active phase" but said Ukrainian soldiers were not responsible for any explosions in Donetsk.
"There is work on clearing approaches to the city, on destroying checkpoints of the terrorists. If there are explosions in the middle of the city — then it is not Ukrainian soldiers," Lysenko told a news conference.
"We have strict orders not to use air strikes and artillery in the city. If there is fighting in the city, we have information that there is a small self-organized group who are fighting with the terrorists."