Official: 181 bodies found at MH17 crash site

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:51 pm IST

Published - July 18, 2014 03:56 pm IST - KIEV

Emergency workers, police officers and even off-duty coal miners dressed in overalls and covered in soot spread out on Friday across the sunflower fields and villages of eastern Ukraine, searching the wreckage of a jetliner shot down as it flew miles above the country’s battlefield.

The attack on Thursday afternoon killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations including vacationers, students and a large contingent of scientists heading to an AIDS conference.

By midday, 181 bodies had been located, according to emergency workers at the sprawling crash site.

Ukraine has called for an international probe to determine who attacked the plane and the Unites States has offered to help. But access to the site remained difficult and dangerous. The road from Donetsk, the largest city in the region, to the crash site was marked by five rebel checkpoints on Friday, with document checks at each.

Conflicting reports on black boxes

Separatist rebels who control the crash site issued conflicting reports on Friday about whether they had recovered the plane’s black boxes or not.

“No black boxes have been found ... we hope that experts will track them down and create a picture of what has happened,” said Donetsk separatist leader Aleksandr Borodai.

Mr. Borodai said that 17 representatives from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation and four Ukrainian experts had travelled into rebel-controlled areas to begin investigation.

Earlier Friday, an aide to the military leader of Mr. Borodai’s group said authorities had recovered eight out of 12 recording devices.

Since planes usually have two black boxes one for recording flight data and the other for recording cockpit voices it was not clear what the number 12 referred to.

The crash site was spread out over fields between two villages in eastern Ukraine Rozsypne and Hrabove and fighting apparently still continued nearby. In the distance, the thud of Grad missile launchers being fired could be heard on Friday morning.

In the sunflower fields around Rozsypne, 40 kilometres from the Russian border, lines of men disappeared into the thick, tall growth that was over their heads. One fainted after finding a body. Another body was covered in a coat.

In Hrabove, several miles away, huge numbers of simple sticks, some made from tree branches, were affixed with red or white rags to mark spots where body parts were found.

Ukraine Foreign Ministry representative Andriy Sybiga said 181 bodies had been found, citing local emergency workers. He said the bodies will be taken to Kharkiv, a government-controlled city 270 kilometres to the north, for identification.

Among the debris were watches and smashed mobile phones, charred boarding passes and passports. An “I (heart) Amsterdam” T-shirt and a guidebook to Bali hinted at holiday plans.

Large chunks of the Boeing 777 that bore the airline’s red, white and blue markings lay strewn over one field. The cockpit and one turbine lay a kilometre apart, and residents said the tail landed another 10 kilometres away.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.