News / Europe

Kerry: Concerned Bodies, Evidence Taken From Ukraine Plane Crash Site

A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
VOA News

The local department of an emergency ministry in eastern Ukraine said Sunday 196 bodies of the 298 passengers and crew on board the downed Malaysia Airlines flight have been recovered three days after the crash.   

It was not immediately clear where the bodies are being stored.

However, Reuters news agency reported Sunday railway workers said bodies from the downed plane are in refrigerated wagons at a train station in the town of Torez, 15 kilometers from the site.  

There has been international outrage and concern about the contamination of the crash site before investigators were allowed access, which continues to be limited by pro-Russian rebels in control of the area. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington is "very concerned" about reports that debris and bodies from the downed airliner have been taken from the crash site.

The State Department says Kerry spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone Saturday. He reportedly told Lavrov he also is concerned that European monitors are not being given proper access to the crash site.  

Additionally, Kerry again urged Russia to take immediate action to stop the flow of weapons and fighters to pro-Russian separatists in the east.

Russia's Interfax news agency said Lavrov agreed that all physical evidence - including the vital black box recorders - be made available to investigators.

On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott described the crash site as "absolutely chaotic."

He told Australian television that he summoned the Russian trade minister to express his "concerns and dissatisfaction with the way this has been handled. Russian-controlled territory, Russian-backed rebels, quite likely a Russian-supplied weapon - Russia can't wash its hands of this," he told the minister.

Abbot said he fears tampering with the evidence will continue because there is "no one in authority on the ground."  He said, "My fear is that Russia will say the right thing, but that on the ground interference with the site, interference with investigators, interference with the dignified treatment of the bodies will continue."

Ukraine connects dots

Ukraine's counterintelligence chief said his country has "compelling evidence" that shows Russians played a role in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines flight over a separatist-controlled region near the Russian border.     

During a Saturday news conference, Vitaly Nada said separatist rebels do not have the training to operate a high-tech BUK-1 missile launcher.

"To operate BUK-1 you need to have a military education and to be well-trained. We know for sure that the team was Russian, there were Russian citizens operating BUK-1, and they came from the territory of the Russian federation together with the missile launcher," he said.

Thursday's missile strike killed all 298 people onboard the plane.

At a news conference late Saturday, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said additional pressure has to be put on Russia.

"What we need now is clear international pressure also on Russia, because Russia has influence on these 'terrorists,' to provide clear and unhindered access to the place of the crash," said Klimkin.

Ukraine has accused Russia of assisting pro-Russian separatists in destroying evidence at the crash site. The government on Saturday said the rebels have removed 38 bodies from the site and taken them to the insurgent-controlled city of Donetsk. It said the bodies were transported with the assistance of "specialists with clearly Russian accents."  

But, Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen who is the self-declared leader of Ukraine's Donetsk region, said separatists had not interfered with the crash site.

Also, reporters in the area of the crash said Saturday that armed rebels had fired warning shots to prevent them from reaching the scene.

Cameron weigns in

British Prime Minister David Cameron, writing in London's The Sunday Times newspaper, says if this is the case, it is a direct result of Russia destabilizing a sovereign state and training and arming thuggish militias.

Cameron said too many European countries have been reluctant to face up to what is happening in eastern Ukraine. He writes that the West must change its approach to Russia and make Western power, influence and resources count.

Malaysian official traveling to Ukraine

Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai was traveling to Ukraine on Saturday to join officials who are assisting in the crash probe. Speaking before he left for Kyiv, Liow said vital evidence at the crash site had been tampered with. He called it a "betrayal" of the lives lost in the disaster.  

He also said the Malaysia Airlines flight was on its proper path when it was downed.

"It followed a route which was set out by the international aviation authorities, approved by Eurocontrol, and used by hundreds of other aircraft. If flew at an altitude set and deemed safe by the local air traffic control, and it never strayed into restricted airspace," he said.

Malaysia Airlines says it is no longer flying planes over Ukrainian airspace, instead routing its aircraft over Turkey.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Thursday when it was shot down.

  • Emergency workers carry a stretcher with a victim's body in a bag at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • Flowers are placed on a plane engine at the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian fighter guards the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
  • A woman holds an anti-Putin placard to protest the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 in Sydney, Australia, July 19, 2014.
  • Passengers' belongings are pictured at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 before a visit by OSCE monitors, near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region, July 18, 2014.
  • People bring flowers and candles to the Dutch embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, to commemorate the victims of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash.
  • People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
  • A relative of passengers on flight MH17 cries as he waits in a bus to be transported to an unknown location to receive more information, at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • People take photos of a screen showing arrival details of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 (C) at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang.
  • A woman reacts to news regarding a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia.
  • The upper floor of Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is closed for media and reserved for family and relatives of Malaysia Airlines flight MH-17.
  • A relative walks past members of the press as he arrives at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
  • Smoke rises up at a crash site of a passenger plane, near the village of Grabovo, Ukraine.
  • A part of the wreckage of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane is seen after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.
  • The site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash is seen at the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region.

Nearly 200 of the passengers were Dutch nationals. The International AIDS Society says there were at least six delegates on the plane who where traveling to an  AIDS conference in Australia, including former IAS President Joep Lange.  

Other victims include 44 Malaysians, 28 Australians and 12 Indonesians.  Several people each from Britain, Germany, Belgium, Vietnam and the Philippines also were killed, along with one each from the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.  The crew of 15 were all Malaysians.

An "outrage of unspeakable proportions"

President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Ukraine in the press briefing room of the White House, July 18, 2014.President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Ukraine in the press briefing room of the White House, July 18, 2014.
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President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Ukraine in the press briefing room of the White House, July 18, 2014.
President Barack Obama speaks about the situation in Ukraine in the press briefing room of the White House, July 18, 2014.

 

On Friday, President Barack Obama said the United States is confident a surface-to-air missile shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine and that it was fired from territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The U.S. leader called the deaths of 298 passengers and crew an "outrage of unspeakable proportions."

The president stopped short of directly blaming any specific person or group for shooting down the plane, but he said Ukrainian separatists are known to have received a steady stream of support from Russia, including heavy weapons, anti-aircraft weapons and training.

Obama said Russian President Putin has the most control over the situation in Ukraine, but has not used it to work toward a peaceful settlement.

 

 

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Comments page of 2
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by: Vu Tuan Anh from: Vietnam
July 19, 2014 11:22 AM
MH17 is probably shot down by pro Russia rebels. It is dificult to say that Ukrainian soldiers did because the rebels do not have jets to use. So the Ukraina also does'nt have operation to fire jets.
Russian President Putin is becoming or going closely to terrorism. The heavy sanctions should be put on Russia soon. MH17 is a big shock for the world. The deepest condolences to victims' families!


by: Fred from: Spain
July 19, 2014 10:57 AM
Vladimir really has to pay for this atrocity. I hope that world sanctions will reduce Russia to begging.


by: John Mark from: India
July 19, 2014 10:37 AM
Shooting civilian Arline and killing hundreds of innocent lives is an ignominious acts from which Russia and her President Putin will never be recovered years to come. Russia was truly exposed from her lies to the world that she is such an trust worthy Country and that she is such stupid. The world community must punish her for her ignominious acts of innocent people.


by: freddie
July 19, 2014 10:29 AM
This could start a big war of many countries

In Response

by: Simon from: Liverpool
July 20, 2014 8:16 AM
The postings here are hysterical, maybe it was a set up to discredit the Ukraine rebels and Russia. It is unlikely to work. We know Ukraine military have shot passenger airliners before. It very simple, just think who has the most to gainn from this incident, and they will be the culprits. There is no evidence who is responsible or who may have enacted this whole tragedy.


by: MOKAYA RAPHAEL from: NAIROBI
July 19, 2014 10:25 AM
why are humans acting inhuman against others.its time for the world to take a strong action and condemn this criminal act


by: Ranger Dan Parsons from: Michigan-USA
July 19, 2014 10:21 AM
I must say, those Russians apparently didn't learn anything from the downing of Korean Airlines flight 007, they've gotten pretty darn good at shooting down planeloads of innocent civilians.


by: nvr from: USA
July 19, 2014 10:11 AM
There is absolutely no logical reason for the separatist or the Russians to shoot down a commercial airline on purpose and cause world condemnation to turn against them.

Ukraine is using this terrible tragedy to insinuate that this was done on purpose.

Ukraine should remember in 2001, when during during one of their military exercises,they shot down an Air Siberian commercial plane killing 98 passengers. I believe that they said it was an accident.

So, stop trying to inflame this tragedy into a larger conflagration.


by: David
July 19, 2014 10:10 AM
Nothing will be done about this. As time goes by it will fade away until the next big story.

In Response

by: Dang thụy hảo from: viet nam
July 19, 2014 11:55 PM
It isn't have nuclear weapons, but we still have a good life
i always wish a peace in everywhere


by: Giovanni from: Roma
July 19, 2014 8:22 AM
Russia is a threat to all of us! We must stop Putin or he will destroy us!


by: Richard Speer from: Columbia MD
July 19, 2014 7:27 AM
I don't think you can call it "Ukrainian airspace" as the area where the plane was shot down and landed was "Separatist airspace."

In Response

by: Anonymous from: Mordor
July 19, 2014 10:42 AM
If a thief steals your wallet, it still yours.

In Response

by: Amir Dread from: NYC
July 19, 2014 10:39 AM
I think the aircraft was shot down by mistake. Airplanes from Kiev attack the area regularly. A likely scenario is the fake government in Kiev attacked the area with warplanes shortly before the Malaysian Airlines jet was set to fly over the area, setting up the plane for mass murder.
- amir dread

In Response

by: freddie from: 82680 ave44
July 19, 2014 10:34 AM
Could mean war.... why ?.....

In Response

by: Nunya Business from: Upyours pa
July 19, 2014 10:24 AM
What does it matter? The fact is that innocent people died over some ignorant president in Russia who started a civil war over what? It's all an ego trip to Putin. Russians are stubborn people who think their right even when their wrong. We can only hope Putin gets on a plan that gets downed by a missile.

In Response

by: dujac from: new orleans
July 19, 2014 10:07 AM
there's no such thing as 'separatist airspace'

the criminals that brought this plane down will be made to pay

In Response

by: Lou from: Atlanta
July 19, 2014 7:56 AM
They will dig a big hole, bulldoze all the evidence into it, cover it up, and say it never happened.

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