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 special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links