July 19 (Bloomberg) -- Tensions mounted over the Malaysian Airlines jet crash in east Ukraine as investigators struggled to get control of the site and foreign governments express growing anger at the chaos on the ground.
As the administration in Kiev demands that pro-Russian rebels give unfettered access to the area, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the atmosphere at the site is “surreal.”
“There is a lot of security here, with many heavily armed people,” spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said in a phone briefing from the site near Torez, about 30 kilometers from the Russian border. The 24-member OSCE team saw unidentified people moving some of the bodies to the side of the road, he said.
The crash, which killed all 298 on board, is worsening an international crisis that was sparked by Russia’s annexation of Crimea earlier this year and was already Europe’s worse since the Cold War ended. President Barack Obama yesterday said the plane was brought down by a missile fired from territory held by pro-Russian insurgents and that President Vladimir Putin is refusing to “de-escalate” the situation.
Ukraine accuses of Russia of supplying the missile, while Putin blames the Kiev government, saying the crash would never have happened had it not fomented the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Malaysia, which is suffering its second plane tragedy in four months, is sending its transport minister to Kiev.
“Any action that can prevent us from learning about the truth of MH17 cannot be tolerated,” Liow Tiong Lai told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Australia’s foreign minister will go to New York to seek a binding United Nations resolution on an independent probe.
At the crash site, chaos still dominates. Yesterday, OSCE workers were given only 70 minutes to tour the site during an inspection that was interrupted by masked rebels shooting weapons into the air, spokespeople for the Vienna-based organization said.
Bociurkiw said today that his team were trying to determine the identities of the people moving the remains and who they represent. He said the jet’s black boxes still haven’t been found. The Ukraine government said rebels have taken 38 bodies to Donetsk, the regional capital, to conduct their own autopsies.
The crash, which came just hours after the U.S. and the European Union imposed further sanctions on Putin, will force him to decide whether to ease tensions the U.S. and its allies or whether to remain defiant.
A French official familiar with the situation said proof that Putin supporters fired the missile would likely force him to dissociate himself frm the insurgents or even actively tell them to stop.
To contact the reporters on this story: Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at email@example.com; Daria Marchak in Kiev at firstname.lastname@example.org To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Fraher at email@example.com James M. Gomez