Updated 10.51 am
SEPARATIST REBELS HAVE Separatist rebels have taken away all 196 bodies that workers recovered from the Malaysia Airlines crash site to an unknown location according to Ukraine’s emergency services.
Pro-Russian we yesterday seen putting bagged bodies onto trucks at the crash site Saturday in rebel-held eastern Ukraine and driving them away.
This morning AP journalists saw no bodies and no armed rebels at the crash site and emergency workers were searching the sprawling fields only for body parts.
Pro-Russian rebels who had been guarding the impact site also appeared to have left. Local emergency crews declined comment when contacted.
A top Ukrainian rebel leader had earlier said that the pro-Russian fighters will guarantee the safety of international monitors at the Malaysian jet’s crash site if Kiev agrees to a truce.
“We declare that we will guarantee the safety of international experts on the scene as soon as Kiev concludes a ceasefire agreement,” the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic’s deputy premier Andrei Purgin said in a statement.
He urged Kiev to “immediately conclude such an agreement” with the rebels.
Failure to do so would give the impression that the government is made up of “dangerous lunatics, bloodthirsty maniacs (who are) dangerous not only for the residents of Donbass but also for the world community”, Purgin warned.
Purgin’s statement came as the international community piled pressure on Russia to get the Moscow-backed rebels to grant investigators full access to the crash site of the Malaysian MH17 jet.
Malaysia Airlines has said meanwhile that it would offer full refunds to customers who want to cancel their tickets in the wake of the disaster, just months after the carrier suffered another blow when flight MH370 disappeared.
Passengers can change or cancel their tickets without financial penalty until Thursday for travel throughout the rest of the year, the struggling national airline said.
“In light of the MH17 incident, Malaysia Airlines will be waiving any change fees for passengers who wish to make changes to their itinerary to any MH destinations,” it said in a statement.
The move comes as Australians were Sunday remembering those killed on flight at church services, as stories emerged of parents losing children, and doctors, teachers and a nun among the dead.
Twenty-eight of the 298 people on the plane apparently shot down in eastern Ukraine on Thursday were Australians, while eight more were permanent residents of the country.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who attended a Catholic mass in Sydney, spoke of the nation’s anguish, saying there would hardly be any Australians who hadn’t been emotionally touched by the tragedy.
“You look at the faces of the dead and they’re your neighbours, they’re your friends, they could be your kids because let’s face it, we are a people who like to travel,” he told the ABC.
“My own daughters flew on MH17 some months ago on their way home from Europe. So this is a tragedy which touches us deeply.”