AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, July 31 (UPI) -- Dutch and Australian forensic investigators say time is running out to recover remaining bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
The plane crashed July 17 in Ukrainian territory held by pro-Russian separatists, believed to have been shot down. Recovered body parts of about 198 of 298 passengers, according to Dutch government reports, imply 100 people are yet to be accounted for.
"The bodies will be extremely decomposed and unrecognizable at this stage," said Dr. Jason Payne-James, a London consulting forensic physician and "You have to consider temperature out in Ukraine, which is around 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) right now. They will decompose rapidly in that sort of heat."
DNA records have been volunteered by relatives of some passengers aboard the plane, suggesting some of the recovered bodies are unrecognizable, or that some body bags contained a mix of body parts.
Because the crash site has not been secured by anyone but rebel fighters, "It's crucial to recover bodies at the earliest opportunity, not only for dignity but also for identification purposes because any rats, foxes or insects out there will also make identification difficult," Payne-James said.