DONETSK, Ukraine - Dutch and Australian police who were planning to head to the crash site of Malaysian flight MH17 on Sunday have had to scrap their trip over security concerns, an OSCE spokesman said.
"There is fighting going on. We can't take the risk," said Alexander Hug, deputy chief monitor of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's special mission in Ukraine.
"The security situation on the way to the site and on the site itself is unacceptable for our unarmed observer mission." Hug added that the mission will try again tomorrow.
In The Hague, Dutch authorities confirmed that their team would remain in Donetsk, a rebel stronghold about 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the crash site, rather than head to the impact zone.
"Because of fighting in the area, the situation is still too unstable to work at the crash site," the Dutch justice ministry said.
An AFP photographer who was heading to the location heard heavy shelling about a kilometre away from rebel-held Grabove, the village next to the crash site.
Terrified local residents were fleeing, and black smoke could be seen near the crash site, said the photographer, adding that checkpoints controlled by rebels were abandoned.