Amid concerns that recovery of the 298 victims aboard crashed Malaysia Airlines flight 17 isn’t happening fast enough, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday to influence pro-Russian rebels who control the crash area to allow full access “as soon as possible,” CNN reported.
Nearly two-thirds of the jetliner’s passengers, which took off from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur before crashing on Thursday, were Dutch.
Rutte said in a statement that he told Putin it’s “absolutely necessary” to make recovery of the victims the “very first priority.”
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At the crash site, armed gunmen — some of them masked — kept close watch over a team of observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe who gained access for a second day. Artillery fire reverberated in the distance.
Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the OSCE group, told CNN that no security perimeter had been established and no one appeared to be in charge. While he said his monitors had better access than on Friday, observing about 75 body bags collected by civilian emergency workers, he described the situation as far from ideal for such a huge crime scene.
The prime minister added a disturbing observation to the already emotional crisis.
“I am shocked by the images of totally disrespectful behavior at this tragic site,” Rutte said. “Against all rules of careful investigation it seems that there are people who are rummaging through the personal and recognizable belongings of the victims. This is downright disgusting.”
Rutte told reporters his conversation with Putin was “very intense” and that he told the Russian leader that “the opportunity expires to show the world” that he is “serious about helping.”