Sabrina Tavenise, reporting on the separatist militants from the border region between Ukraine and Russia where the plane went down, was among the first reporters to reach the scene. She writes:
After strewing debris over an area of several miles, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came to a rest in a large wheat field dotted with purple flowers and ringed in Queen Anne’s lace. Incongruously, many of the bodies strewn about in the smouldering wreckage were largely intact, indicating that the plane had made at least a somewhat controlled landing.
As dark descended on the field, a light rain began to fall, casting a funereal pall over a scene of almost unspeakable horror. A woman in a black sweater top lay on her back, blood streaming from her face, her left arm raised as if signaling someone. Another victim, naked except for a black bra, lay on the field, her grey hair mixing with the green grasses, one leg broken and her body torn.
A young boy, who looked to be around 10 years old, lay on his side in a red T-shirt reading “Don’t Panic”.
Pieces of the plane were scattered across the road and field: a seat back with its television display cracked, a tail fin clearly displaying the colors of Malaysian Airlines. One televised image showed a travel guide for Bali, almost untouched.
The road was lined with fire engines and other emergency vehicles. Militiamen, plentiful in this rebel-controlled territory, urged journalists to take photographs. Rescue workers tied pieces of white cloth on nearby tree branches to mark where bodies were found.
There were no houses in the immediate vicinity. The only visible structure was a poultry operation with long white coops visible in the distance.
Many of the victims were still in their seat belts and attached to pieces of the plane. One man, still in his socks, but without pants, lay akimbo on the field, his right arm placed on his stomach, as if in repose.
A young man in blue shorts, wearing red Nike sneakers, lay with his arms and legs splayed outward, clutching his iPhone.
A crew from Russia’s LifeNews filed very graphic video of the debris, with images blurred to obscure mangled bodies, and a boarding pass and a passport recovered by onlookers.
Another journalist, Noah Sneider, reported from the scene on Twitter that it was “Too gruesome to post photographs.”
Not For The First Time
April 20, 1978: Korean Airlines Flight 902, which diverted from its planned course on a flight from Paris to Seoul and strayed over the Soviet Union. After being fired upon by an interceptor aircraft, the crew made a forced landing at night on the surface of a frozen lake. Two of the 97 passengers were killed by the hostile fire.
Sept. 1, 1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by at least one Soviet air-to-air missile after the 747 had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 240 passengers and 29 crew were killed.
July 3, 1988: Iran Air Flight 655 Aircraft was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from the American naval vessel USS Vincennes. All 16 crew and 274 passengers were killed.