US criticizes lack of access to Malaysia Airlines crash site

The United States criticized Russian separatists Saturday for giving international investigators limited access to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

International monitors were given less than three hours of limited access on Saturday, the State Department said, amid deep fears that evidence at the scene is being corrupted.

“We are deeply concerned by the Russia-backed separatists’ refusal to allow OSCE monitors safe and unfettered access to the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17,” State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, referring to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, a security agency comprised of countries including Russia.

“Yesterday, the monitors were allowed only 75 minutes at the site. Today, they were allowed less than three hours,” she said. “Thus far, the separatists have only allowed monitors to have limited access to a small area.”

There were widespread reports Saturday that people at the scene had moved parts of the wreckage as well as some of the bodies of the 298 people killed when the Malaysian jet was hit by a surface to air missile from territory in Eastern Ukraine claimed by Russian militants battling Kiev.

News reporters at the scene also suggested the site may have been looted.

“The site is not secure, and there are multiple reports of bodies being removed, parts of the plane and other debris being hauled away, and potential evidence tampered with,” Psaki continued. “This is unacceptable and an affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve.”

“It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible,” she said.