KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of containers holding remains of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash were loaded aboard two military transports to go to the Netherlands Thursday on the second day of the airlift, while Australia’s government dispatched 50 police officers to London to prepare to join a proposed U.N. team to secure the crash site.
The crash a week ago killed all 298 people – most of them Dutch citizens – aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists, and U.S. officials say the plane was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the dispatch of police officers and said foreign ministers of Australia and Netherlands are going to Kiev to seek an agreement to deploy an international security force.
Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multinational force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster.
“We are ready to deploy Australian police to Ukraine to help secure the site as part of an international team under United Nations authority,” Abbott said.
The first bodies of the crash victims arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and hundreds of relatives.
Two military planes were ready to fly from the government-controlled city of Kharkiv at midday with 51 containers of bodies and body parts, Ukraine’s government said late Wednesday. At least 200 bodies were aboard the train that brought them from the crash site to Kharkiv earlier this week.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the crash, but offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.
The officials said the plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. officials cited intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.
Russia on Thursday brushed off the accusations. Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a video statement that if the U.S. officials indeed had the proof the plane shot down by a missile launched from the rebel-held territory, “how come they have not been made public?”
Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.