MH17 wreckage recovery begins
Work has started on the recovery of wreckage of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was downed over Ukraine with the loss of 298 lives including 10 Britons.
The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is leading the investigation into the tragedy, has up to now had limited access to the crash site.
But the board announced a few days ago that it hoped to start the recovery soon, and today it said work had begun.
The crash happened on July 17 this year in an area where pro-Russian separatists operated. The plane was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
A preliminary report by the DSB in September said wreckage was "consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside".
Today, the DSB said: " Today the recovery of wreckage from flight MH17 has started. The DSB commissioned the recovery and transportation to the Netherlands of the wreckage as part of the investigation into the cause of the crash of flight MH17. As part of the investigation the DSB intends to reconstruct a section of the aircraft."
The board went on: " It is expected that the recovery operation will take several days, depending on the safety conditions and other factors. This will be assessed daily.
"The recovered wreckage will be collected at a location near the crash site, from where the wreckage will be transported to Kharkov (in Ukraine) and finally to the Netherlands. At this point the DSB cannot give detailed information about the means of transportation and the time schedule."
Despite the difficulty in accessing the site due to fighting in the area, the black box flight recorders were recovered early on and were passed to the DSB after being inspected at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.
In its September preliminary report, the DSB said the black box information showed the MH17 flight proceeded normally until 1.20pm local time after which all recordings "ended abruptly".
The DSB said pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places and that most likely there had been "an in-flight break up".
The board added that it aimed to publish a full report within one year of the date of the crash.
The MH17 disaster followed on from the disappearance in March this year of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 237 passengers on board.
A reconstruction of a section of the MH17 aircraft by Dutch investigators would echo the work done by the AAIB which gathered wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 after it exploded over Lockerbie in December 1989 and painstakingly rebuilt part of the fuselage at Farnborough as part of its investigation.