More than 24 hours after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down, the stench of decomposing bodies mixed with the charred odour of the wreckage is reeking in the summer Ukrainian heat, CNN reports.
The fields of rebel-held eastern Ukraine are strewn with the remains, torn suitcases and charred books of the people who met their end in the crash that has captured the world’s attention.
"It basically looks like the biggest crime scene in the world right now, guarded by a bunch of guys in uniform with heavy firepower who are quite inhospitable," Michael Bociurkiw, spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OCSE) team, told CNN.
The region of Donetsk is controlled by pro-Russian militants, who have denied responsibility over the missile believed to have hit MH17 as it was en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.
The gunmen are preventing officials from the OCSE team access to the site.
“We asked for the commander, the leader. No one showed up," Bociurkiw told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
"There was one gentleman there in a uniform, heavily armed, and apparently somewhat intoxicated who wasn't very hospitable or helpful at all. In fact in the end he kind of rushed all of them away, including the journalists.”
Despite this, the crash site has not been secured, with journalists reportedly walking up to the wreckage to file their reports, said CNN.
“The perimeter is not secured whatsoever. They seemed to have put some tape up where we were standing, but otherwise it's very easy for anyone, really, to walk in there and tamper with evidence or debris," Bociurkiw was quoted as saying.
“So a lot of work needs to be done. A lot of professional work, very, very quickly."
International convention dictates that Ukraine must take authority over the investigation, as the plane was shot in its airspace.
But while a small crew of government emergency workers were on the scene, they need more people and resources to handle a crash that has left 298 bodies scattered across the field, said CNN.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said yesterday that 181 bodies had been recovered so far.
CNN cited emergency workers saying some of the bodies were so mangled it was impossible to determine whether they were men or women. Others showed no marks or injury.
A few bodies were caught up in large pieces of the aircraft, while some were lying where they fell.
It is not clear who exactly is in charge, or whether the dead would be treated with dignity, said CNN.
Ukraine’s impartiality is also under question, as it trades accusations with Russia over which nation is responsible for the flight’s crash.
Meanwhile, the summer heat is taking its toll on the remaining bodies scattered across a 2ha farmland.
“It is cool right now. But if it’s a warm day tomorrow, it will continue to turn into quite a messy situation,” Bociurkiw told CNN. – July 19, 2014.