Many personal possessions collected at the site of the MH17 disaster

More than 40 employees of the local Ukranian State Emergency Services (SES) including the local fire brigade, collected personal possessions of the victims of flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine on Monday. They collected the possessions which could actually mean something for the surviving relatives, such as clothing, suitcases, post, passports, credit cards, jewelry, fluffy toys and photographs. That was announced by Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, Head of the repatriation mission.

‘Today's action was successful. The SES succeeded in collecting 9 cubic metres' worth of personal possessions from the disaster area. We're grateful to them for this’, says Aalbersberg. The Netherlands has always maintained that it would do its utmost to recover as many of the personal possessions as possible. ‘It's good to see that working in this way also achieves results’, says Aalbersberg.

The day progressed without any incidents: at about midday shots were fired in proximity to the disaster area. ‘That just goes to show that the repatriation mission still cannot be resumed’, says Aalbersberg. The safety was constantly being monitored by the OSCE.

The emergency responders and the fire brigade have fetched stuff at the collection points at Roszypne and Grabovo and in the vicinity of these villages. The situation was not safe enough to also collect personal possessions in Petropavlivka.

Aside from the local emergency services, the OSCE, the organisation who is negotiating on behalf of the Netherlands with the separatists, also went along to the disaster area. In addition, there was an operational team of 4 Dutch aides.

The collected items are being brought to Kharkov via Donetsk. That is expected to take place tomorrow. In Kharkov the experts will carry out an initial forensic check. Eight extra experts will be flown in to make this possible. After that the personal possessions will be transferred to the Netherlands as soon as possible.

Taking the safety situation in the area into consideration, the SES will not continue collecting in the area tomorrow. The situation is evaluated from day to day to see whether and when another opportunity arises.