Ukrainian rescue services have located another 27 bodies from the Malaysia Airlines jet that presumably was shot down by a ground-to-air missile last week in eastern Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said Sunday.
"In recent hours another 27 bodies and, in addition, 20 parts of bodies have been located, and they will be placed in refrigerated trucks to be transported to special rail cars," Groysman told reporters.
He did not clarify, however, if these are the same bodies and body parts that were found Sunday morning at the site of the plane crash viewed by Efe in an open field near the town of Grabovo, in the country's eastern Donetsk region.
Another 196 bodies, all of them found near Grabovo, on Sunday were placed in four refrigerated rail cars at the Torez train station near the crash site, the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission in Ukraine, Alex Hug, told a group of reporters, including Efe.
Once they arrive in Donetsk, capital of the same-named region that has become a bastion for pro-Russian separatists, the bodies will be taken to hospitals until they can be turned over to Ukrainian officials, one of the separatist leaders said.
The Ukrainian government, meanwhile, released an audiotape incriminating the pro-Russian rebels and Russia itself in hiding evidence about the shootdown of the plane.
The Ukrainian Security Service posted online the recording of an alleged telephone conversation between two pro-Russian militia leaders which appears to incriminate the separatists and also Moscow in hiding proof that the plane was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile.
On the recording, a voice identified by Kiev as the commander of the Vostok battalion, Alexandr Jodokovski, asks someone who could be one of his men, identified as Alexei, to supervise the hiding of the plane's black boxes "so that they don't fall into foreign hands, of all those people who visit you, the OSCE and others."
"The fate of the black boxes is vital. They must be under our control ... It's not my request, it comes to us from higher up ... and by this I mean Moscow," the alleged pro-Russian commander said in the recording released via Youtube.
In another conversation released by Ukrainian secret services and allegedly recorded two days ago, the day after the accident, the voice identified as Alexei informs his commander that his men have found "an orange keg" that could be one of the plane's black boxes.
Very shortly after the existence of the conversation was known, pro-Russian separatists acknowledged having in their possession several objects that could be the Malaysian aircraft's black boxes.
The United States says evidence indicates the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Bloomberg Television in an interview that the missile that downed the Malaysia Airlines jetliner and killed 298 people "had to come from Russia, the training provided to operate the surface-to-air missile most likely came from Russia."
Although it is not clear whether the Russian government knew beforehand of the missile use, "there's no question that Russians are going to come out big losers" once the incident is thoroughly investigated, Hagel said. EFE