The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has increased tensions in the already war-torn Ukraine, with reports that drunken rebels are stacking bloated bodies onto refrigerated train cars and denying access to teams looking to investigate the crash.
There were 298 people killed when Ukrainian rebels shot the plane down using a surface-to-air missile believed to have been supplied by Russia. On Sunday those rebels — many of whom were reportedly drunk — stacked bloated bodies into refrigerated boxcars. The pro-Moscow rebels were also seen using cranes to remove chunks of the aircraft, leading to condemnation from Western leaders.
Much of the anger over the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is directed toward Russia and Vladimir Putin, who many believe supplied the rebels with weapons used to take down the plane.
“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.
Kerry has been critical of both Russia and the rebels, calling them out for not granting access to the site.
“Drunken separatists are stacking bodies into the back of trucks, removing materials from the site,” he told ABC’s This Week. “On Friday, we had 75 minutes of access to the site; on Saturday, three hours of access. This is an insult to everybody.”
Experts now think that critical time has been lost, and that rebels have destroyed much of the evidence of exactly what kind of missile caused Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 to crash.
“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.”
Many families of the dead have expressed outrage that the Ukrainian rebels and Russia have not handed over the bodies.
“Mr. Putin, send my children home,” said Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son, Bryce, and his girlfriend, Daisy Oehlers, were killed on MH17. “Send them home. Please.”
Russia, meanwhile, is blaming Ukraine’s government for creating the turmoil that led to the plane being shot down. But officials in Moscow have yet to respond to reports that the weapons used to take down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were supplied by Russia.