Graveyard of desecration: Grave robbers. Ghoulish tourists taking pictures on their mobiles. Corpses left to rot: Ian Birrell sends this shocking dispatch from the grim crash site.
For this is the grimmest of graveyards. Here on the gentle rolling hills of eastern Ukraine, beside an abandoned Soviet-era poultry farm, lay the innocent people whose lives were extinguished so suddenly in an explosion at 33,000 feet on Thursday afternoon.
Several human victims were still stuck in their seats. Others were mangled, mashed and hideously manipulated. I saw a leg, a battered trunk, a twisted hand reaching out from the grass and things more gruesome than I ever want to recall.
In a burned patch of grass littered with charred debris lay five crumpled corpses in a heap. Nearby were boarding passes, a smashed computer, a school book, piles of clothes, a box of chocolates – although bizarrely, two bottles of duty-free whisky had survived.
One can only imagine the terror with which these 298 passengers plummeted to earth – should they have been unfortunate enough to have still been alive – after their passenger plane was seemingly struck by a powerful military weapon.
There are many circles of obscenity around this mass murder, almost certainly caused by a missile fired by crowing pro-Russian rebels armed, funded and trained by Moscow. But perhaps the ultimate insult is that even in death these poor people were denied dignity.
So their devastated and dishevelled bodies were left in the baking summer heat, exposed to the elements for three days while uniformed goons with guns stole from their suitcases and then stopped international observers trying to solve the mystery of their deaths.
The grieving mother of an MH17 victim today begged for his body to be returned - as reports emerged of corpses being carted away in the night and piled up in train carriages in a rebel-held town.
Silene Fredricksz and her husband Robertt begged Russian president Vladimir Putin to ensure the safe return of her son and his girlfriend. The two, Bryce Fredricksz, 23, and Oehlers, 20, were among the 298 victims when the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday and among the 192 Dutch victims of the disaster - almost two thirds of the total.
Holding a photograph of the two loved ones, …..She said: 'They were 23 and 20 years old. They are laying there somewhere on the floor. I don't know where they are.
'I want to arrange their funeral and I can't. I don't know where they are. I want them back. I want my children back. Look at those people. They're beautiful.
'They have to come back. Mr Putin, send them home. Send them home. Please."
Dutch Victims: Bryce Fredricksz (right) and Daisy Oehlers (left)
Outrage has been building over the treatment of bodies at the site, as pro-Russian rebels loaded as many as 196 bodies onto trucks and hauled them away, while at the same time holding back international observers.
Armed separatists refuse to allow investigators access to crash site.
KIEV, Ukraine — Pro-Russian separatist militiamen have seized custody of the bodies of about 200 victims of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that was blown out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile, Ukrainian officials said on Sunday, and rebels continued to limit access to the crash site in eastern Ukraine, blocking the work of experts even as hundreds of untrained local volunteers were picking through the wreckage with sticks.Posted by Jill Fallon at July 20, 2014 2:52 PM | Permalink
Ukrainian emergency responders, working under the watchful eyes of armed rebels, had recovered 196 bodies from the area where Flight 17, a Boeing 777 carrying 298 passengers and crew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed and burned on Thursday afternoon.
But the responders were forced to turn the bodies over to the separatists, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, said at a briefing in Kiev on Sunday. Mr. Lysenko said officials believed that 38 of those bodies were taken to the morgue in Donetsk, a regional capital that is controlled by separatists.
Large groups of searchers were working at the crash site, near the village of Grabovo, for the first time on Sunday. Coal miners and people in civilian clothes walked through wheat and corn fields, looking for those bodies that were still missing. Bodies were placed in black plastic bags and laid along the side of the road in matted grass.
It was the first day of mass searching, a full three days after the plane was shot down.
In a statement on Saturday, the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, whose country lost 193 of its citizens aboard the plane, urged the speedy return of bodies and expressed outrage at the lack of control over the site.
“Swift recovery of the victims’ remains is now an absolute necessity and our highest priority,” Mr. Rutte said in the statement. “I am shocked by the images of completely disrespectful behavior at this tragic place. In defiance of all the rules of proper investigation, people have evidently been picking through the personal and recognizable belongings of the victims. This is appalling.”