MH17: ABC correspondent Phil Williams finds 'distressing' signs of looting at Malaysia Airlines crash site

MH17: ABC correspondent Phil Williams finds 'distressing' signs of looting at Malaysia Airlines crash site

MH17: ABC correspondent Phil Williams finds 'distressing' signs of looting at Malaysia Airlines crash site

Updated 21 July 2014, 9:34 AEST

The images from the fields where flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine have shocked and angered the world.

In the days since the plane was shot down, European investigators have been harassed by gun-wielding, pro-Russian rebels.

Evidence has been disturbed, belongings have been looted and now the dead are being moved.

ABC correspondent Phil Williams has visited the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

As we come over this way here, as we walk through, you will see little bits and pieces of people's everyday lives. Someone's shawl there. Over here, one of the backs of one of the plane's chairs.

ABC correspondent Phil Williams

"All around here, there are bits and pieces [of debris] and it goes like this, not for a few hundred metres, but for kilometres," he told ABC News 24 from the scene.

"We saw some pieces driving in here about 12 kilometres from this site, so it will be an extraordinarily difficult task to get everything together.

"And is this a proper crime scene? Is this being treated as a proper investigation? Certainly not. We saw some people being brought in today, coalminers, we're told, and sent out to comb through these fields.

"They've cordoned off some of the areas a little more effectively and recovered some of more of the body parts in some of the more difficult areas, but in terms of an international operation here, it's wholly inadequate.

"As we come over this way here, as we walk through, you will see little bits and pieces of people's everyday lives. Someone's shawl there. Over here, one of the backs of one of the plane's chairs.

"There are little bits everywhere as I walk - another large chunk of the aircraft and very sadly a lot of personal items."

Williams says he saw signs of looting at the crash site.

"It really does look, I'm afraid to say, as though there has been some sort of looting here because virtually every bag we've seen has been opened," he said.

"It looks like it's been rummaged through, and if that's true that's a very distressing element to this whole disaster."

He told the ABC's AM program anything of value in handbags or wallets has been taken.

Williams told AM that journalists' access to the site is tightly controlled.

"The journalists are being allowed through. You go through a series of road blocks - six or seven road blocks before you even get there," he said.

"As for the investigators, there still seems to be some sort of resistance there. The rebels say: 'Well we're just waiting for them to turn up and when they turn up, we can certainly take them [to the crash site]'.

"However, there doesn't seem to be any rush or any push and many of the investigators are worried about the security situation because it's a warzone.

"You can occasionally hear mortar fire in the distance and it's very real - it is a hot zone and they are worried for their personal safety.

"So it's a very complex situation but the rebels do seem in no hurry to get an international investigation underway."