Peter Leonard and Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, September 9, 2014 6:40AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 9, 2014 1:19PM EDT
HRABOVE, Ukraine — A child’s skipping rope, its yellow handles blistered and charred, lay Tuesday amid wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was still strewn across fields of Eastern Ukraine more than seven weeks after the jet was shot down.
Chunks of fuselage carrying the Malaysian carrier’s logo were lined up alongside a pro-Russian rebel roadblock while books, magazines, a child’s shoe, and a burned page from a Tagalog language manual lay nearby.
Evidence of the July 17 aviation disaster that killed all 298 people on board the jet remained exposed to the elements as investigators hundreds of kilometres away in the Netherlands — who have not visited the crash site — released a preliminary report that left unanswered key questions about what exactly happened.Its key conclusion is that the plane had no mechanical or other technical problem in the seconds before it broke up in midair likely after being struck by multiple “high-energy objects from outside the aircraft.”
The slow pace of the investigation, its cautious preliminary conclusion and the fact that wreckage and human remains are still lying in Ukraine frustrated and angered families grieving for passengers who died.
“Well, I don’t know what to say about this,” said Samira Calehr, a Dutch mother who lost two sons, Miguel, 11, and Shaka, 19, in the crash.
She said that she wants the people responsible for downing the plane brought to justice “as soon as possible,” pausing for emphasis on every word. “I want to know who killed my children.”
Zenaida Ecal, a 53-year-old resident of Pagbilao in the northeastern Philippines, lost her best friend, Irene Gunawan, in the MH17 tragedy.
Ecal said the initial report discloses only what many already knew — that the Malaysian plane came under fire — and that the report still fails to identify the perpetrators.
A separate Dutch-led criminal investigation is underway aimed at bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“We just want all of the victims to be found, identified and given a proper burial. We want the perpetrators to be identified and punished. As long as these don’t happen, all the families and friends of the victims will continue to suffer,” Ecal said. “It’s taking so long.”
Tjibbe Joustra, chairman of the Dutch Safety Board that is leading the international investigation into the downing of Flight 17, acknowledged that the preliminary report — mandated by international aviation guidelines — did not shed much new light on the downing of the Boeing 777.
“Perhaps you could say we are a little bit behind, but we are not behind with the truth. We try to make a report that’s for the next of kin — very important — but also for history,” he said.
“I understand a lot of people say, ‘Why don’t they work a little quicker?’ But this will take its time,” he added.
Samira Calehr said she was disappointed with the pace of progress.
“I think that if this had happened to citizens of the United States, they would make a faster move than here,” she said. “Because I think — I’m so sorry for saying it like this — I think the Dutch government, they are safe players. They don’t want to have an issue.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the head of a mission to bring back human remains and belongings would travel to Ukraine on Wednesday.
But the region is still not deemed safe for Dutch Safety Board staff.
Shelling continued overnight in eastern Ukraine despite a cease-fire, injuring one woman, the city council of Donetsk said.
The council for the rebel-held stronghold said a school and several residential buildings were hit by shelling, imperiling the already shaky cease-fire between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces.
Meanwhile, Col. Andriy Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council, told journalists Tuesday that five servicemen had been killed and 33 wounded since the cease-fire was declared on Friday.
Governments whose citizens died on Flight 17 were left in little doubt about what happened.
“The findings are consistent with the government’s statement that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.
Christopher Yates, an aviation safety specialist at Yates Consulting, told The Associated Press the report “is extremely consistent with damage from a missile for the simple reason there are penetration marks.
“It must have been moving at very high velocity to create the damage,” he said. “It could only be a missile of the type that would reach the altitude that would have struck the aircraft — potentially a Buk missile.”
The Dutch report came a day after the BBC’s “Panorama” show cited eye-witnesses who said they saw a BUK M-1 missile being offloaded in a town in eastern Ukraine, near the place seen in photos released by the Ukrainian army that showed a BUK launcher heading east. They said that the crew handling it had Russian accents.
“They had pure Russian accents. They say the letter G different to us,” said one of the eye-witnesses, who weren’t named because of fears for their security.