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MH17 Crash Site Finally Reached By Investigators, Efforts Begin For Recovering Human Remains

Dutch and Australian investigators set up base at the crash site hours after 13 Ukrainian soldiers died in an ambush by pro-Russian rebels nearby.

Posted on August 1, 2014, at 11:54 a.m. ET

Dozens of international investigators arrived in eastern Ukraine on Friday to recover the remains of as many as 80 victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the Associated Press reported.

AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Australian and Dutch investigators, along with officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, traveled to the crash site outside the village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region and have set up base camp at a chicken farm. The international team will comb the rural area for human remains and the plane's debris.

Hours before they arrived, pro-Russian separatist rebels killed at least 10 Ukrainian solders during an ambush in a town located close to the site of the crash, despite a tentative cease-fire declared between both sides around the crash zone.

The investigators' priority is to recover the remains of passengers' bodies and their belongings. The human remains are said to have been rotting in 90-degree heat since the crash on July 17.

AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

They will also search for evidence in the plane's wreckage. The crash site will be designated a crime zone, Australian police officer Brian McDonald told reporters in Hrabrove. Trained dogs will be part of the search team.

Clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels have complicated efforts by investigative teams to retrieve victims' bodies. Pro-Russian rebels have also reportedly tampered with evidence.

An Associated Press reporter heard artillery fire as the investigators prepared their search equipment.

AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Friday morning's attack on the Ukrainian convoy took place before the end of the 24-hour "day of quiet" declared on Thursday, said Ukraine security spokesman Vladislav Seleznev. "The militants are behaving in a cowardly and shameless fashion," Seleznev said. "They used the 'day of quiet' just to fire on us."