Unexpectedly losing their loved ones to a senseless war was already painful. But families of the 298 victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 may have to endure one final blow, as authorities declared it may be already impossible to retrieve all bodies. The families may have to source from elsewhere their much needed closure.
Andrew Colvin, the deputy commissioner of the Australian federal police (AFP), on Monday frankly and truthfully said recovering the bodies and identifying all victims are near to impossible.
"I won't say it's a likely situation but we have to consider, as we have from day one, given a range of factors, given the spread of the crime scene, given the nature of this disaster, the trauma on the bodies of the victims ... we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that not all remains will ultimately be recovered," Colvin said in a press briefing in Canberra.
Further exacerbating the initial circumstances was the uncertainty of getting immediate access to the crash site.
"Of course, it takes time to get into the site, it takes time for us to set up and do what we need to do," Colvin said. "We need to be mindful of how much time is required to be effective on any given day. We don't want to put our officers in danger for the sake of a brief look at the site. We've had a look at the site already ... the next stage of this is to get in there and start the examination."
Safety was paramount for the recovery team because the crash site is a highly volatile area.
He said initial assessment made by the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) showed the risk was too great. "This is a region where hearing gunfire, hearing shelling is a normal part of the day."
Despite Australian PM Tony Abbott's objective to "bring them home," Colvin said they will not put the lives of the officers in line "just for the sake of a brief look at the site."
"The risks are obvious and they are many. We've said all along this is a risky mission but of course we are working on the basis that if it is a permissive environment, we'll go in."
A 49-member multinational team was supposed to visit and inspect the wreckage site on Sunday but decided to cancel because of the intense fighting between Ukrainian and pro-Russia separatist forces. The team included AFP and Dutch officers and OSCE personnel.
Andrei Lysenko, a Ukrainian security spokesman, said data from the recovered flight recorders showed Malaysia Airlines MH17 encountered a "massive explosive decompression" after being struck by fragments coming from a missile. He said the Boeing 777 that carried 298 passengers crashed due to a massive, explosive loss of pressure after being riddled by shrapnel by multiple times.