ROZSYPNE, Ukraine – An international team of investigators in eastern Ukraine on Thursday reached the crash site of the Malaysia Airline Flight 17 for the first time.
Fighting along the route to the wreckage site between government troops and pro-Russian separatist rebels had for several days kept the delegation from reaching the area.
A rifle-toting militiaman at a checkpoint on the approach to the crash site at the village of Rozsypnoe allowed investigators clear passage, but fired a warning shot to keep reporters from proceeding any further.
The militiaman, who gave his name only as Sergei, told Associated Press journalists that fighting was still ongoing in Rozsypne.
Police and forensic experts from the Netherlands and Australia were expected to initially focus their efforts on retrieving bodies still on the site and collect victims' belongings.
Reporters who attempted to reach the site from another approach were warned by local residents warned that some roads to the crash site had been mined.
Near Hrabove, another village around which fragments of the plane remained uncollected, AP reporters saw mortar fire coming down at a spot within a few hundred meters.
It remains unclear exactly how many bodies remain and what condition they are in after being exposed for so long to the elements.
A delegation from Russia's state aviation body said Thursday it also hoped to visit the site, an agency spokesman said Thursday.
Sergei Izvolsky told the AP that a delegation of Russian specialists from Rosaviatsiya was due in Kiev Thursday to participate in the investigation.
Representatives of the Dutch and Ukrainian commissions would not comment on the arrival of Russian officials. Continuing fighting has hindered access to the crash site, located in rebel-controlled territory in east Ukraine.
Ukraine's parliament, meanwhile, voted not to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
Yatsenyuk had said last week he was resigning after two parties left the coalition supporting him and parliament balked at passing laws he said were essential to fund the country's war against pro-Russian separatists.