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Irish forensic detective in hunt for MH17 bodies crash

The bodies of the victims of flight MH17 may never be recovered unless the crash site is made fully accessible, warns Irish forensic specialist Oran Finegan, who visited the scene.

Mr Finegan (37), Deputy Head of the Forensic Services for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is one of only a handful of detectives who got access to the crash site of the Malaysian Airlines flight in Ukraine last week.

Explaining the nature of his work he said: "It's the general management of the dead. We try to understand what is going on and see it first hand for ourselves. We manage the dignified recovery of the remains with the aim of helping grieving families too."

The Irishman described the site as vast and stated that because of fighting, the bodies of many of the crash victims remain un-recovered.

"While some remains have already been recovered there are remains still on site and personal belongings. The size of the crash site is vast. It is approximated at 32 square kilometres," said Mr Finegan, originally from Carlingford.

Up until yesterday, he was one of only a few investigators, to reach the scene, even though the plane crashed on July 17.

It is estimated that there are up to 80 bodies still un-recovered. Mr Finegan investigated the scene on July 24.


To explain the delay in the recovery of the remains the forensic detective cites the area that the plane came down in and the nature of the crash.

"The area is forested and it's also a crop area. Usually in these situations it's a minimum of at least a number of weeks before the remains are recovered. It's not something that can be done in a number of days and that's in normal circumstances.

"Here there are seven-kilometre stretches between various parts of the wreckage and that doesn't take into account the recovery of remains as decomposition begins," stated Mr Finegan.

"The issue with the area is that it is under separatists' control and that complicates the issue."

Irish woman, Edel Mahady was among the 298 victims but her remains have yet to be identified.

Ms Mahady, who lived in Australia for more than two decades, was an administrative assistant at the Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School in Perth. Her relatives, originally from Lucan, said they were overwhelmed by the sympathy shown by the public.

Mr Finegan has been working in the area of management of the dead since 1998, spending time in the Balkans and Bagdad.