Claims of looting at crash site add to grief for victims' families

Families of MH17 victims have urgently cancelled their loved ones' credit cards and mobile phones amid reports of looting at the crash site.

Relatives said the idea rebels were rifling through the bags and bodies of those killed was horrific.

The Dutch Banking Association said it was taking preventive measures and would compensate families for any money stolen.

"Any damage resulting from abuse of [bank cards] will compensate the next of kin," it said.

While rebel fighters assembled some belongings in tents for what they called "safe keeping", it is clear that many suitcases strewn over the area have been rifled through.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Kiev Government, said: "I have received information that terrorist death-hunters were collecting not only cash and jewellery but also the credit cards ...

My humble request to the relatives of the victims is to freeze their credit cards, so that they won't lose their assets to terrorists."

Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said that local residents may have used the credit cards of victims. Meanwhile, separatist rebels claim to have recovered black box recorders from the wreckage of the MH17 airliner, as Britain insisted yesterday that Russia must ensure they are handed over. Mr Borodai said his men would hand over the flight data boxes only to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Ukraine's intelligence service said the boxes had been taken, on Moscow's orders, in an attempt to hide Russia's role in the shooting down of the Boeing 777. The agency released telephone intercepts purporting to show a rebel commander ordering people at the scene to look for the recorders "because Moscow asks where the boxes are". Sky News showed video of a rescue worker carrying what appeared to be a recorder.

Latest developments

• Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out last night against those who he said were exploiting the incident for "mercenary objectives".

• The leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Australia spoke to Putin by phone yesterday. European foreign ministers are also meeting in Brussels tonight to consider further sanctions on Russia.

• Pro-Moscow rebels have piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated train wagons in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing claims that the site was being tampered with.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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