Visitors look at a memorial at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Monday. ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called off the search for additional remains at the site of the downed airliner in Ukraine.
At a news conference in The Hague on Wednesday, Rutte said the search has become too dangerous.
As we reported yesterday, Russia has stationed more than 30,000 troops near its border with Ukraine for military exercises.
Similar military exercises preceded Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March.
A team of nearly 100 forensic experts from the Netherlands, Australia and Malaysia had been searching the 14-square-mile crash site over the past six days.
Earlier investigations of the site had recovered 150 complete bodies, Malaysia’s public health minister told the state press agency Bernama. A total of 228 coffins containing human remains have been removed from the area.
“None of us ever experienced anything like this before and we hope never to again,” Cornelis Kuijs, a Dutch police colonel who has been overseeing the recovery mission, told the British Telegraph. “Besides the tragedy of the crash itself, you also have this tension of a war going on around you, which makes it unique.”
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had 298 people onboard, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17. The area has been racked by fighting between separatists and forces loyal to the Ukrainian government since March.
Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, pledged to resume the search for remains at a later date.