Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Families speak of horror at chaotic recovery mission

Families in mourning are still waiting for their loved ones to be returned home, amid concerns that bodies have been tampered with and "thrown around like cargo"

Distraught relatives of the MH17 victims have spoken on the anarchy surrounding the recovery operation, the silence from Malaysia Airlines and the frustration they have at hearing of the 'inhumane' treatment of corpses.

Ten Britons, including one with dual South African citizenship, perished when the Boeing 777 they were travelling on from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down last Thursday.

The nephew of passenger Glenn Thomas has said his family is getting most of its information from the media.

Jordan Withers said they while they received communication last night, they had previously been “constantly ringing Malaysia Airlines with no joy.”

“It’s been very poor really. Quite upsetting,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He spoke of wanting government officials to work urgently in getting their loved ones home and said that despite offers, they would not want to travel to Ukraine to see the chaos for themselves.

 

“It's quite raw still and apparently you would fly into Kiev and an eight hour coach journey there to see scenes you've not even seen in a horror film,” Mr Withers said.

“Some of the scenes I've been seeing, people emptying bags and bodies - it's not something our family would be ready to see, and I don't think we will be for a long time.

“Seeing the news this morning, they have been loading them on to trains like cargo. And it's just degrading and inhumane. You wouldn't treat anyone like that. It's 2014, you can't believe it's still going on really. It's unbelievable.”

A number of world leaders whose citizens died in the crash have said that repatriating the bodies is their main priority.

READ MORE: Fake Facebook pages for young victims
Alan Pardew challenges Newcastle squad to honour fans
Australia warns against using bodies as 'pawns'

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that his first aim is to transfer the bodies currently being held in refrigerated trains 15km from the crash site – in rebel-held territory – to a location overseen by the Ukraine government.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans met with Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Mark Lyall Grant, today to discuss the hastening of returning victims’ remains.  Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also said it’s “imperative” that the deceased are brought home.

The father of a Newcastle United fan who died as he travelled with a friend to see his beloved team play in New Zealand, has said that he hopes his son is in one of the many body bags being loaded into trucks and refrigerated wagons, as he would hate for him to be lying somewhere without anyone to give him a cuddle.

Liam Sweeney, 28, was on the ill-fated flight with his friend and fellow football fan John Alder when the two, along with 296 other people were killed as their plane was shot out of the skies.

Barry, Liam’s father, said: “Without going into politics because I think the Government have to sort that out, I just want them basically to bring the 298 people who need to be brought home for this to close.

“I have seen a little bit of the news, I try to stop watching it only because it is upsetting, especially when you see body bags but I'm hoping Liam is in one of those because I don't want him to be lying there somewhere where there's nobody there to give him a good cuddle, you know.”

Victims of the crash: (L-R) Ben Pocock, Liam Sweeney and John Alder Victims of the crash: (L-R) Ben Pocock, Liam Sweeney and John Alder Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Sweeney said he hasn’t really had time to stop and think about the loss of his son.

He said that he’s fine as long as he’s talking to people and keeping himself busy but when he stops, the tears come. His wife and ex-wife, Liam’s mother, “are in bits,” he said. “They just can’t comprehend what’s happened.”

It comes as a UN resolution is set to be debated and voted on later today, which will demand “full and unfettered” access to the crash site with the co-operation from the rebels.

Further criticisms have been directed at Russian President Putin for failing to placate the pro-Moscow militants nor using his 'influence' to force them to step aside earlier or 'admit culpability'.

David Cameron has warned that should President Putin and his government not display a "radical" change in behaviour, draconian sanctions could be wielded against them.

Dutch forensic investigators have arrived at the crash site and have inspected some of the bodies in the refrigerated train wagons, amid claims that the rebels were obstructing the movement of the bodies.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?