Pro-Russia rebels have made the Ukrainian prisoners of war search for dead bodies inside the completely destroyed Donetsk Airport in the conflict-torn eastern Ukraine.

Several captured soldiers have been searching for their dead colleagues in the airport, removing debris with their hands and passing it on to their co-prisoners, reports said.

Five bodies have been recovered so far, out of 15 soldiers believed to have been killed in the battle with rebels in January.

Reuters quoted one of the prisoners Vladimir from the west Ukrainian city of Ternopyl as saying: "Personally I did not know any of them.

"This is a very dangerous job."

"I was a driver. I evacuated the wounded. A vehicle like mine is standing burnt out over there."

Opened in 2012, the new terminal at the Sergei S Prokofiev International Airport, Donetsk, has been a centre of conflict between Ukrainian forces and the rebel groups.

The terminal was opened in May 2012 to serve international flights during the Euro football championship, which Ukraine hosted that year.

After several battles, Ukraine lost control of the airport to rebels in January, when the soldiers fighting there were taken in as prisoners.

A Russian commander of the separatist ‘Sparta’ battalion Arseny ‘Motorola’ Pavlov said: "It’s not our job to look for dead bodies. It’s our job to make them.

"They take their comrades out to return them to their mums and dads.

"Did they think we would feed them for free?"

A civilian volunteer reportedly from the Russian town of Tula said: "This is a very dangerous job. Let them do it."

Image: Donetsk International Airport has been a target of pro-Russian rebels since last year. Photo: courtesy of Icorpus Youtube channel.