Experts: MH-17’s crash site is not properly secured and it is a huge problem

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. We are not 100 percent sure what is going on at the crash site of MH-17 but it is clear that the crash site is not properly secured for investigation and not investigated by the specialists. So from the general point of view how much is it a problem, what could be lost in this process?

2. Let’s say that proper investigation will start at the crash site soon, what will be the priority of investigators, and why?

Answers:

Bill WaldockProfessor of Safety Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

1. First, you are absolutely correct that the scene of the crash has not been secured. Multiple photos and videos of civilians inside the impact crater, and throughout the entire 10 sq Km debris field clearly show them moving wreckage and other items in some cases piling smaller pieces, reports of looting have occurred, and yet the investigators that are there have been very constrained in what they are able to do. Normally, investigators first want the scene of a crash secured, with a tight perimeter around all the wreckage. Second part of the process would be to photograph everything in a forensic manner. Thirdly, the bodies of those aboard should be properly processed and their positions marked before they are removed. All of the personal effects should remain with the body, bagged separately and placed within the main body bag. Then, once removed all should be refrigerated to slow decomposition. The engines, landing gear, fuselage structures, and wing sections within the main impact crater are visible in photos and video. Each should be first properly photographed and documented before anything is moved or removed. The parts of the aircraft that came down in other places require the same processing. There have been reports that major parts have already been removed. All of this changes the evidence and makes it harder for proper investigators to understand what happened and how everything relates.

2. Secondly, the first priority is to do the above items, produce a map of the debris field, and properly retrieve and protect major components, including parts that came down away from the main impact. Ultimately the goal is to understand why the aircraft crashed, identify all the people aboard. Obviously, part of the story is already known: someone fired a surface to air missile at what should have been clearly a civilian airliner (at 33,000′ a Boeing 777 is very easily identified with a good pair of  binoculars). The results of that action and the sequence of events which followed, through the ground impact are the focus of the investigation.

I will say, this will be one of the most complicated, and probably contentious, investigations in history.

Michael Barr, Senior Instructor, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California

1. The longer the site is not secured the harder it will be to make a good investigation. Key pieces of evidence will be lost or damaged by people or weather conditions. It should have been secured by immediately after the crash.

2. The priorities will be first to remove the victims. They will then look for any small fragments that could be of a missile and also explosive materials. They then will analyze the evidence and see what type of explosive and what type of missle that it could come from. They then will track as who makes that missile system and what people have such missile. Also, what trainning is needed to fire such a system.

Shawn PruchnickiResearch Coordinator/Lecturer, Center for Aviation Studies, Ohio State University

1. Huge problem. With every passing hour the scene is getting more damaged, looted and the very clues to exactly what happened and potentially who is responsible are being trampled out. Completely unacceptable.

2. The beginning focus will probably be on determining where the missile struck and what initial damage it caused to the aircraft. Clues to which type of weapon it was might lead investigators to who is responsible. This information can help us better understand how the event unfolded after the strike. Not only will this aid in holding those responsible, but also assist manufactures of commercial aircraft missile revise their products if needed or possible.

 

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