Associated Press journalists saw reeking bodies baking in the summer heat Saturday, piled into body bags by the side of the road or still sprawled where they landed in the verdant farmland in eastern Ukraine after their plane was shot out of the sky Thursday.By Sunday morning, AP journalists saw no bodies and no armed rebels at the crash site. Emergency workers were searching the sprawling fields only for body parts.
[T]he horror of the crash site was on full display. Small white pieces of cloth dotted the grassy farmland, marking the locations of bodies. The smell of burned flesh hung heavily near a broken hulk of metal on the road. A foot with part of a leg lay nearby.The scene was strangely empty. There was no yellow tape, no investigators poring over the giant metal carcass. Four local rebels wearing fatigues and carrying hunting rifles wandered through the ruins, poking around the debris more out of curiosity. On the grass were photographs of a family vacation, a baby announcement postcard and a boarding pass.One of the men, who had never seen a boarding pass, asked what it was. Another picked up an English-language tour book and flipped through it before throwing it back in the heap. “I can’t read it anyway,” he said.
The Guardian witnessed the arrival of a delegation from the international monitoring body the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at around midday local time to inspect the wagons, accompanied by a convoy of heavily armed and nervous rebels. As they opened the metal door to one of the carriages to inspect the interior, a stench of death wafted out, and black body bags were visible inside."The special monitoring mission in its third day dealing with the incident has now monitored the location where bodies are being refrigerated in three wagons," said Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the mission. "We have not been able to count them as that would be too difficult in this situation."Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesman for the mission, added: "Going inside the wagons is impossible without special equipment. The stench is very, very bad."
These are the train drivers. They told me they have no idea where they will be driving the train with MH17 bodies pic.twitter.com/nqCPN3virk— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) July 20, 2014
The train with MH17 bodies. Surreally deserted. Suspect there will be 600 journalists here in about ten minutes... pic.twitter.com/wOmjgmJcuf— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) July 20, 2014
Anywhere else, a plane crash site would be roped off & crawling w investigators. Not here. Just us, rebels, & local emergency workers #MH17— Kirit Radia (@KiritRadia) July 19, 2014
Rebels here say bodies being taken to morgue, but won't say whether in their occupied area or govt controlled area. #MH17— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) July 19, 2014
No sign of black boxes. No sign of missile debris. No sign of aviation or military experts. No idea where the bodies are going. #MH17— max seddon (@maxseddon) July 19, 2014