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MH17 plane crash site: sunhats, sweets … and stakes marking body parts

Human remains, debris from Malaysia Airlines plane and surreal paraphernalia of long-haul travellers covers 15 square mile area

Luggage, clothing and other passenger items lie gathered at the site. Photograph: Anastasia Vlasova/EPA

 

For miles around, you can see them, strips of white cotton attached to wooden stakes in the fields of eastern Ukraine. Each stake marks a victim from flight MH17, or at least a body part. There are a lot of stakes.But then there is a lot of debris, a vast wash of metal, charred remnants, and the surreal paraphernalia of international long-haul travel, smeared over a ruined 15-square mile area. Handbags. Footwear. Passports amid the sunflowers.

You can tell some of the passengers had been on holiday. Scattered across the crash site was the unmistakable jetsam of vacation: sunhats and suntan lotion, summer clothing, duty free shopping, the occasional poolside novel. You could also tell that children were here from the unopened packets of Haribo sweets, the fistful of playing cards, a first-year drawing scrawled in a notebook, a small black-and-white stuffed monkey abandoned in the grass.

Some of the bodies are perfectly intact, some ruined beyond recognition, some partly disrobed by the G-force of falling to earth. One woman lies partly burned, a hand raised above her head, stripped of all but her undergarments.

A white flag marks the location of human remains. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

 

It was not just the human passengers that died. An unlikely menagerie of dead pets lay strewn across the scene in the grass, bright blue and yellow macaws, a cockatoo, a random giant St Bernard dog curled peacefully where he fell.

The sticky Ukrainian summer will not be kind to the bodies. Warm sunshine gave way to rain and humidity on Friday. By late afternoon, the sharp tang of kerosene had been overpowered by something altogether more macabre: the cloying smell of death.

They're getting used to death here. This is a de facto war zone. Explosions rang out every few minutes as a reminder. And when the separatist rebels first saw the debris falling on Thursday afternoon, their initial thought was that they might be under attack from paratroopers.

"Initially I thought it was a paratrooper descending from the plane but then realized that there were people falling from the sky in the passenger seats," said one of the rebels Vladimir, 45, holding a Kalashnikov in his hands.

A broken watch lies on a plastic cover at the site of the Malaysia Airlines crash. Photograph: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP

Source: www.theguardian.com

     
 
 
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