NEWS WATCH: International Investigators Reach Crash Site In Ukraine Amid Battles

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife

EPA1451528_ArticoloKYIV, UKRAINE (BosNewsLife)-- An international team of investigators has for the first time reached the area where a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane crashed, after it was shot down.

The team arrived after Ukraine's government ordered a one-day pause in military operations amid international appeals.

Fierce fighting near the plane wreckage between government troops and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine had for several days kept them from reaching the crash site.

But on Thursday, monitors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe accompanied by Dutch and Australian experts, reached the area.

A SILENT MOMENT

They held a moment of silence for the 298 people on the plane who lost their lives here. The human remains of some 80 victims have not yet been recovered.

Kyiv had come under pressure from the Netherlands, which lost 196 people in the disaster, as well as countries such as Malaysia to ensure safe access to the site.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, who visited the Netherlands Thursday, urged Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels to agree on a permanent ceasefire. “[Dutch] Prime Minister [Mark] Rutte and I spoke about the continued military activity at the crash site. For the sake of the grieving families, it is imperative that all remains at the crash site are repatriated as soon as possible,” he said.

Russian investigators were also in Ukraine Thursday, but it was unclear when they would be able to visit the site. Kiev and the United States say it appears that pro-Russian forces fired the missile that downed the aircraft.

RESIGNATION REJECTED

The rebels and Moscow have denied involvement and blame Kiev.

Back in Ukraine, journalists witnessed some artillery fire around the crash site and a pro-Russian rebel, who fired a warning shot when reporters tried to approach the area.

Yet on Ukraine’s political front the government received a boost to deal with the crisis: Parliament rejected Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk’s resignation on Thursday, after approving laws he said were needed to boost spending on the army and to avoid a default.

Yatsenyuk submitted his resignation last week as lawmakers initially refused to support his proposed budget amendments.

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