GRABOVE, Ukraine - Forensic experts have identified the first of 298 people killed in the MH17 disaster, the Dutch government said, as grieving relatives defied safety concerns to pay an emotional visit to the crash site in eastern Ukraine.
A truce has been called in the immediate area around the site by both the Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists, but combat was raging just 60 kilometres (35 miles) away, with loud explosions heard at regular intervals in western and northern suburbs of rebel stronghold Donetsk.
Ignoring safety warnings, an Australian couple travelled to the scene of the crash without any escort Saturday, saying they were fulfilling a promise to their only child that they would be there.
"She was full of life," said Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski of their 25-year-old daughter Fatima, an aerospace engineering student who died when the Amsterdam-to-Kuala Lumpur plane was shot down July 17, killing all 298 people on board.
She and her husband Jerzy Dyczynski, who wore a T-shirt with the words "Fatima: We Love You", were overcome with emotion as they walked among the wreckage and scorched earth, and laid a large bouquet of flowers on part of the debris.
The Dutch government, which is in charge of identifying the remains found at the site, said that forensic experts had confirmed the identity of the first victim on Saturday, one of 193 Dutch citizens who had been on board.
An investigation into the downing of flight MH17 has been hampered by the violence plaguing east Ukraine, which claimed at least nine lives in the last 24 hours in insurgent holdout Lugansk.
Dutch experts sought to travel to the site on Saturday, but turned back because of safety concerns.
The rebels who are accused of shooting down the plane with a missile from Russia have signalled they are only open to allowing a small group of Australian and Dutch officers in.
But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country lost 28 citizens in the crash, stressed that it was a "humanitarian mission".