Latest Discovery Shows An MH17 Passenger Put On An Oxygen Mask
Dutch prosecutors have revealed that one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was found to be wearing an oxygen mask.
Investigators had previously said that all 298 people onboard were killed or went unconscious immediately after the plane was hit by a missile, crashing in eastern Ukraine last July.
But this discovery seems to show that at least one passenger, an Australian man, had maintained enough consciousness to slip the mask on before his death. The mask was not covering the face of the man, one of the 38 Austrailian passengers on the plane, but instead sat around his neck.
Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office, said the mask has been tested for “fingerprints, saliva and DNA and that did not produce any results.” According to the Sydney Morning Herald, exactly how or when the mask got there is unknown.
De Bruin noted that he does not know where the passenger was sitting or whether the location of his seat played a role in his briefly extended survival.
None of the other bodies, he said, were found with masks.
Relatives of the passenger were informed of the mask shortly after the body was found, but the finding was only made public Wednesday night when Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans spoke of it on a talk show.
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying that Timmermans regrets the public revelation, as it triggered outrage from relatives of other victims who have long criticized the treatment of their dead loved ones.
The statement said,
I have an enormous amount of sympathy for the next-of-kin. The last thing I want to do is compound their suffering in this way.
Flight 17 crashed after pro-Russian separatists mistook it for a Ukrainian military plane and launched a ground-to-air missile on July 17.
The advanced weapon is said to have been supplied by Russia, which has yet to accept responsibility for the tragedy.
Since the plane crash, separatists have been accused of refusing to allow maximum access to the site.