MH17: Shocking footage shows how close aeroplane crash was to Ukrainian village

Film - captured by a resident of nearby Ukrainian village - captures sense of confusion and shock after passenger plane came down over rebel-held territory

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The Independent Online

Shocking footage has been released that appears to show the devastating moment the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 crashed just outside a Ukrainian village.

The amateur video, which was obtained by The Associated Press almost exactly four months after the aeroplane crashed killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, shows horrified residents standing in shock as plumes of thick, black smoke belch into the grey sky outside their homes.

Many of the residents of Hrabove, a village in eastern Ukraine around 50 miles from the rebel-held industrial city of Donetsk, appear unsure of how to react.

Some start running towards the wreckage, before realising the futility of any help as the extent of the devastation caused by the downing of the Boeing 777 becomes apparent on the afternoon of 17 July.

Such is the amount of debris that some villagers appear to think two planes have come down.

In the video, which was released yesterday, people surrounding the wreckage can be heard asking if it was a Ukrainian plane.

Prior to the MH17 crash, Ukrainian media had reported that pro-Russian rebel forces had brought down an Antobov-24 military transport plane.

It appears in the video that Hrabove residents initially believed this was a similar-type crash.

One person can be heard to ask: “And where is the pilot?”

Another responds: “Who the hell knows?”

It appears the footage was taken using a mobile phone, which scans the remains as the individual holding the device walks towards the main body of wreckage. In the process the camera pans round and it is possible to see how close to the village the crash was.

The separatists have long denied any knowledge of bringing down the passenger airliner; however, western governments believed the aircraft was brought down by a SA-11 missile launcher – also known as a Buk – provided by the Russians.

Moscow has consistently denied any such claims.

The flight, which was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, became an international incident after the carrier came down over contested rebel territory in Ukraine, refocusing attention upon the conflict.

The European country’s rapid descent into a vicious civil war between pro-Russian separatists and a pro-European government in Kiev, which has seen more than 4,00 people killed, has become a piece in a larger global confrontation seemingly brewing between Russia and the west.

Dutch investigators have now begun work on the crash site following months of delays and limited access to the site of the tragedy.

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Michael Bociurkiw said to the BBC: “There were attempts to get at some of the wreckage, especially what’s called the tail tail wreckage, where you have the pock marks in the fuselage – that’s the section of the aircraft near the cockpit.

“Unfortunately at that time, there was heavy shelling and that process had to be stopped so now the focus of course is getting again at that part of the aircraft.” 

Remains from the crash were eventually returned to families in August. Recovering the bodies was fraught with difficulties as pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian soldiers continued to clash around the wreckage.

The debris will be gathered by the Dutch Safety Board and taken to the Ukrainian-held city of Kharkiv, before being flown to the Netherlands for further analysis.

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