Four months after the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), video footage of villager reactions in Eastern Ukraine is emerging along with the debris from the tragedy. The rebel-controlled territory with its continued fighting, violence, and danger prevented recovery and investigation efforts up until now. With the area presently supervised by Dutch officials from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the full story of the MH17 should soon arise.
The airplane was shot down near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine on July 17, 2014. All 298 souls (mostly Dutch citizens) aboard the Boeing 777 were killed with human and mechanical remains from the explosion scattered over an area of eight square miles. The first load of debris arrived Sunday to a lumbar warehouse in Hrabove. From that site, remnants ship via train to a hub in Kharkiv before moving on to the investigation center in the Netherlands. The recovery process is expected to take 10 days and there is no timeline on when an investigation might conclude.
One striking element about the video is the close proximity of the crash site to the village. The amateur footage from a resident of Ukraine shows the black smoke, tall flames, and anxious reactions of frightened people. Rattled dialog is readily apparent as fires burned only a few meters from homes.
In the video, one person asks, “And where is the pilot?” and receives an immediate answer of, “Who the hell knows?” More frenzied conversations revealed concern that more than one airplane was involved. It was later realized that the crash debris were from a large passenger jet.
The assumption that this was a military jet was reasonable considering three days before, pro-Russia forces shot down an Antonov-24 military transport plane. Hrabove residents likely witnessed other military airplane crashes along with seeing rebel forces take surviving pilots and crew members hostage.
Blame for the crash is still mired in propaganda, diplomatic grudges, and a lack of forthcoming evidence. Officials in Ukraine felt stunned by the commercial airliner crash and at the time, immediately placed blame on Russian fighter jets.
Western governments support a theory that MH17 came down with an SA-11 missile launcher supplied by Russian officials with instruction on its usage—a premise also backed by Ukrainian officials. Right before the crash, separatists bragged that they stole SA-11 missile systems from Ukrainian stocks, giving some credibility to Russian claims that they never provided military hardware to pro-Russian forces.
Russia’s Channel One and Rossiya television stations broadcasted photographs of a Ukrainian fighter jet sending missiles towards MH17. Online chatter claims the photographs are forged with some possibly connected with conflicts Russia had with the Ukraine in 2012.
Information was suppressed due to the fighting between Ukrainian loyalists and pro-Russian separatists. This new footage regarding the MH17 crash and villager reactions may show more detailed information about the conflict between Russian and Ukraine along with determining the true story of this tragic incident. The significance of this video may expand beyond the MH17 crash and show the world just how frequently villagers in the Ukraine witness acts of war.
By Jocelyn S. Mackie
Feature Photo by: Aero Icarus – Flickr License