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Fury mounts over treatment of MH17 victims

Due to the plane being downed in a conflict zone, armed rebels have been in de facto control of the crash site

Published: Updated:

International fury mounted over the handling of the bodies of MH17's victims on Saturday. The Malaysian government took lead in imploring that the remains of passengers scattered across a field in eastern Ukraine be treated with "dignity and respect."

"Investigators and the public in Malaysia are increasingly upset that the bodies are still left in a field," a government source told NBC News.

The uproar came as universal disapproval of Russian President Vladimir Putin soared.

"I was shocked at the pictures of utterly disrespectful behavior at this tragic spot," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. After speaking with Putin, Rutte said the Russian head “has one last chance to show he means to help" recover the bodies.

Of the 298 passengers aboard MH17, 193 were Dutch and 43 were Malaysian.

Fury mounts over treatment of MH17 victims
Fury mounts over treatment of MH17 victims

Due to the plane being downed in a conflict zone, armed rebels have been in de facto control of the crash site. This has completely limited access to international investigators and emergency workers.

It has also permitted negligence, on behalf of the armed men, of the deceased’s dignity and respect.

Fergal Keane of BBC news reported from Grabove, Ukraine, “(corpses) were grouped together amid the twisted metal, the bags and cases, the child's playing cards, the guide books, the laptop computer, the duty free whiskey bottle, the woman's red hat.”

“All of this and so much more lay spread across the fields.”

However on Saturday, two days on from the catastrophe, bodies were finally being grouped together and covered.

With the arrival of the OSCE (Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe) team, “corpses were places in black body bags and placed at the side of the road."

One bag had not been closed and a man lay naked and exposed to view. Fergal Keane asked a militiaman to close the bag.
“He looked at me and shrugged.”

"For the sake of the man's dignity please close it," he begged. He agreed and cautiously repositioned the bag so that the man was shielded.

Infographic: Malaysian Airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine
Infographic: Malaysian Airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine

It is unknown where the bodies will now be take and what transport will be used. It is difficult to assess who is in real control of the crash site.

It seems the political ramifications of this disaster are taking precedent over the dignity of its victims and respect for their families.

Two days after an international tragedy and it is a band of gunmen who still command the conditions of life and death.