Donetsk, Ukraine (CNN) -- Dutch and Australian experts trying to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in war-torn eastern Ukraine turned back for the second day Monday after hearing explosions and being told of heavy fighting in the area.
The group -- including officials from the Netherlands, Australia and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe -- returned to Donetsk, according to the Dutch-led investigation team.
Among other things, the team had hoped to work on the retrieval of human remains from the fields strewn with wreckage from the passenger jet, which had 298 people on board when it was brought down by a suspected surface-to-air missile on July 17.
The team of observers, investigators and experts had anticipated getting good access to the site after negotiating with both sides in the conflict, said Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission, before the team was forced to turn back.
Ukrainian government forces have been battling pro-Russian rebels in the region for months, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Now, as Ukrainian troops attempt to cut off access to Donetsk, fighting is heading north, closer to the crash site, which sits amid rebel-held territory.