Victims’ belongings stolen

KUALA LUMPUR: THE horrific Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash that broke many hearts did not deter opportunists from robbing the dead.

At the crash site near Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where victims’ bodies lay broken and scattered about, wallets and handbags were empty.

USA Today highlighted an observation by freelance photojournalist Filip Warwick at the site.

Warwick said while scouring the area, he noticed that he did not come across a single wallet with money in it, mobile phone or a camera.

“They’ve all mysteriously gone missing,” he wrote.

He said in some areas, backpacks and luggage were grouped together and it was clear that looters had opened and rifled through some of them.

“A black handbag lay on the field, turning muddy from the rain. A beige wallet lay next to it, open. Near it, credit cards and photographs carefully lined up next to each other on the wet grass, ordinary pictures of loved ones: son, daughter, father and mother.

“The scene was replicated across the field — camera holders missing cameras, wallets missing cash and cosmetics and other items scattered in random patterns.

Australian journalist Demjin Doroschenko, who has been covering the Ukraine-Russian tensions for six months, rushed to the scene when he heard of the incident.

The 43-year-old said he rummaged through some of the passengers’ belongings to retrieve personal information of the victims.

However, he noticed that many of the passengers had items from their luggage stolen and not one wallet found had any money in it.

“I arrived last night when almost no one else was here, so I started looking around the site for Australians.

“I got a boarding pass from a woman in Perth and another pass from another Australian man.

“I’m going to find their families and get their stuff back to them so they can have something that they had when they were on the flight,” he told news.com.au.

Investigators also faced massive hurdles as they sought access to the grisly crash site of the plane in eastern Ukraine, with the area controlled by rebels blamed for downing the jet with a surface-to-air Buk missile.

Despite a hail of calls from around the globe for a swift probe into the crash, initial efforts by international monitors to gain full access to the site have been impeded by pro-Russian separatists locked in fighting with Ukraine forces.

The fate of the vital black boxes — at least one of which was reported to have been recovered — was unknown, AFP reported.

AFP journalists at the site said dozens of mutilated corpses remained scattered around the vast area, the scale of which appeared to have overwhelmed local rescue workers.