Around midday, observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission inspected the three refrigerated train cars that will carry the remains away. They did so under the watch of dozens of armed rebels.
"The special monitoring mission in its third day dealing with the incident has now monitored the location where bodies are being refrigerated in three wagons," Alexander Hug, deputy chief of the mission, told journalists at the Torez train depot. "We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation."
Mission spokesperson Michael Bociurkiw reportedly said that entering the cars is impossible without the use of special equipment. "The stench is very, very bad," he said.
Three hours later, the fate of the bodies and the train's destination remained unknown.
At the depot, the red and green engine that will take the cars away idled noisily, as two engineers smoked cigarettes nearby. They said they had not yet been told where they would be going.
Train dispatcher Natalya Koruzhaya said she, too, had not been told the destination of the train, and would only know when she received a phone call from a "commander" she would not identify.
Her colleague, Verinika, who declined to give her last name because she was not authorized to speak with the media, said the train will likely go toward one of two stations next: north to Debaltseve, or east to Ilovaisk, in the direction of Donetsk, the pro-Russian rebels' stronghold. Rebels told Mash on Saturday that they had already taken some 30 bodies to a morgue there.
Other destinations are also possible. Observers and the governments of those who died in the crash have expressed concern over murmurs that the bodies could wind up in Moscow.
Ukrainian authorities asked that they be taken to Kharkiv, about 185 miles north, where some of the country's best forensics facilities are located, and where a crisis center has been set up to accommodate families of the victims.
But the rebels have so far not cooperated with the central government in Kiev, which has launched an "anti-terror operation" to root them out of the territory they have occupied since April. The nearly four-month bloody conflict has cost hundreds of lives, and displaced tens of thousands from the eastern regions of Ukraine.
Later, word came that Alexander Borodai, the self-proclaimed prime minister of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, would hold the train in Torez "until the experts arrive."
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