Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Another 21 bodies found at crash site

21 July 2014, 14:50

Hrabove - Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields of east Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

Local rescue workers had piled 21 black body bags by the side of the road in Hrabove early on Monday. It was unclear how quickly they would be transported to refrigerated rail cars in the nearby town of Torez, where the other bodies are being held.

On Sunday night, Ukraine's emergency services agency said the total number of bodies found was 251. International indignation over the incident has grown as investigators still only have limited access to the crash site and it remains unclear when and where the victims' bodies will be transported.

Pro-Moscow rebels piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated boxcars on Sunday in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing condemnation that the site was being tampered with.

Pressure on Putin

The pressure has been growing on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who the US and others say has backed and armed the rebels, to rein in the insurgents in Ukraine and allow a full-scale investigation.

Putin lashed out against those criticisms on Monday, accusing others of exploiting the crash in east Ukraine for "mercenary objectives".

Putin said Russia was doing everything possible to allow a team of experts from the International Civil Aviation Organization, a UN agency, to investigate the scene. He also again criticised the Ukraine authorities in Kiev for reigniting the fighting with the pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site.

"We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on 28 June, this tragedy would not have happened," Putin said. "Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives."

That statement came in the wake of comments by the US on Sunday, presenting what it called "powerful" evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile.

"Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists," Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN's 'State of the Union.'

The leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Australia also spoke to Putin by phone late on Sunday. European foreign ministers are also meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to consider further sanctions on Russia.

In an opinion piece for the Sunday Times, British Prime Minister David Cameron said there was a "growing weight of evidence" suggesting that the rebels shot down the plane.

If that was the case, Cameron said that was "a direct result of Russia destabilising a sovereign state, violating its territorial integrity, backing thuggish militias and training and arming them."

Bodies incinerated

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country lost 28 citizens in the tragedy, said Putin "said all the right things" during their telephone conversation about ensuring an international investigation into the disaster.

"I'm now going to try to ensure that as far as Australia humanly can, we insist upon these things happening," Abbott told Sydney Radio 2GB on Monday. "The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation, and this is completely unacceptable."

The 109-square-kilometre crash site, spread out on farmland and villages, looked dramatically different on Sunday, a day after armed rebels had stood guard while dozens of bodies lay in the summer heat. The rebels were gone, and 192 bodies were loaded into the refrigerated train cars in the rebel-held town of Torez, 15 kilometres away.

The Ukrainian government said in a statement on its website that a second train with four refrigerator cars had arrived at Torez station. On Monday morning, four rebels armed with automatic weapons were standing guard around the cars.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference that repatriating the bodies was his "No. 1 priority."

He said all efforts were aimed at getting the train with the bodies to "territory controlled by Ukraine" and that a Dutch military plane was being sent to Kharkiv to set up a coordination centre. On Monday, three Dutch members with Holland's National Forensic Investigations Team arrived in Donetsk to join an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe mission.

Michael Bociurkiw, a spokesperson for the OSCE, said reports from the group's investigators in Ukraine suggest some bodies were incinerated without a trace.

"We're looking at the field where the engines have come down. This was the area which was exposed to the most intense heat. We do not see any bodies here. It appears that some have been vaporised," he said from the crash site.

Crash site forensically compromised

Rebel leader Alexander Borodai denied the rebels were trying to tamper with evidence, saying the bodies would be turned over to a team of Malaysian experts he was expecting.

A group of investigators that included Malaysian officials was in Kiev, but said they wouldn't go into rebel-held areas until they get better assurances about security. The Ukrainian government, which has responsibility for the investigation, has also asked for help from the International Civil Aviation Organization - a UN body - and Eurocontrol, a European air traffic safety organisation.

Borodai insisted the rebels have not interfered with the investigation, and said he would turn over the plane's flight data and cockpit voice recorders, or "black boxes," as well.

"The bodies will go nowhere until experts arrive," Borodai said in the rebel-held city of Donetsk.

But there were clear indications that the rebels were interfering in the investigation.

Lyubov Kudryavets, a worker at the Torez morgue, said that on the evening the plane went down, a resident brought in the bloodied body of a child, about 7 or 8 years old. On Saturday, militiamen came to take away the body away, she said.

"They began to question me: 'Where are the fragments of rocket? Where are the fragments from the plane?'" Kudryavets said. "But I didn't have any wreckage. ... I swear."

Experts said that even if investigators are granted access now, it might be too late.

'Send my children home'

"Even without any deliberate attempt at a cover-up, the crash site is already compromised in forensic terms," said Keir Giles, an associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank. "A reconstruction of the aircraft fuselage and wings would give a picture on how the missile struck and what kind it was. If any aircraft parts have already been removed ... this compromises the objectivity of the investigation."

Rutte said the Dutch foreign minister was headed to the UN to lobby "to further expand the international coalition pushing for quick recovery of the bodies and getting to the bottom of the terrible events on MH17."

In the Netherlands, worshippers at church services prayed for the victims, as anger grew over the rebels' hindering of the investigation.

Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son, Bryce, and his girlfriend, Daisy Oehlers, were among those killed, said she was appalled their bodies weren't being handed over.

"Mr. Putin, send my children home," she said, speaking on Sky TV from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. "Send them home. Please."

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...