Photo: Jerome Sessini—Magnum Photos

Malaysia Airlines Ukraine Crash: ‘Unreal’ Scenes from Photographer Jerome Sessini

Late Thursday, a field of sunflowers in eastern Ukraine was transformed into the scene of a tragedy when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile. Photographer Jerome Sessini was one of the first people to arrive. He wasn’t prepared for what he was saw.

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The bodies and ashes of 20 Malaysian victims from the MH17 Malaysia Airlines jet that was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July were given full military honors and a day of national mourning was declared, the first for civilians in the country’s five-decade history.[X]

 There were 43 Malaysians on board MH17, 15 of them were crew members of Malaysia Airlines. All 298 on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed, including 193 Dutch nationals. 

The country compounded the country’s grief over the troubling and still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 four months earlier. Malaysia said 30 of its citizens on board MH17 had been identified and further remains would return in the coming days.The government asked the nation of 28 million people to observe a minute of silence and prayer, while flags nationwide were lowered to half-mast.[X]

1. Malaysian Army soldiers carry a coffin containing one of the bodies of the downed MH17 flight upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

2. Coffin containing one of the bodies of the downed MH17 flight, loaded into a hearse upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

3. Malaysia Airlines crew members hold flowers as they wait outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims’ bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.(AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

4. A Malaysia Airlines crew member cries as she waits outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims’ bodies of the  Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 are to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

5.  Mohamed Salleh, center, father of Nur Shazana, a Malaysia Airlines crew member who was among the victims onboard Flight MH17, place flowers on her grave during a burial ceremony at Taman Selatan Muslim cemetery in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.(AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

6. Sharom Ibrahim, center, mother of Nur Shazana, a Malaysia Airlines crew member who was among the victims onboard Flight MH17, pours water on her grave during a burial ceremony at Taman Selatan Muslim cemetery in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.(AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

President Obama said today that the missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines jet in Ukraine yesterday, killing 298 people aboard, was fired from territory controlled by pro-Russia separatists. A U.S. official earlier had told The Times that U.S. intelligence agencies reached a preliminary conclusion that pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine fired the missile. The U.S. is seeking further intelligence before reaching a final conclusion, the official said.

A powerful Buk missile launcher may have brought down the plane. Learn more about it above.

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MH370: Six months on, how are Chinese families coping?

Six months after Malaysia Airlines Flight ‪#‎MH370‬ with 239 mostly Chinese people on board went missing on March 8, how are the‪#‎Chinese‬ families dealing with the tragedy?

Here is a collection of their stories with seven families from different cities in ‪#‎China‬ talking about their hopes, expectations and sufferings.

Read more: http://www.cctvnews.cn/2014/09/06/mh370-six-months-on-how-are-chinese-families-coping/

Yesterday you were still there. You were a friend, grandfather, mother, classmate, the neighbor, a colleague, that boy at the cash deck, the nice couple from next door. Yesterday your loved ones waved you goodbye at the airport. You were a tourist on his way to the sun, an exchange student going to family, a professor on his way to a conference.
Today you’re a victim. A victim of a battle you had nothing to do with. A victim of violence that is as useless as mopping the floor while the faucet is still open.

I don’t know you, yet I can’t get you out of my mind. Celebrating holiday suddenly feels selfish when I think about the pain and sadness of the people who waved you goodbye yesterday. The people who hoped for a safe homecoming. Who are still hoping they will soon wake up from this terrible nightmare.

I can’t stop thinking about you. How you stepped on that plane to your exotic destination, full of cheerful expectations.
The picture of a Lonely Planet between the wreckage testifies to the plans you had. Seeing the world, discovering a beautiful country.
I close my eyes and in my thoughts I go with you. Past the douane, through the luggage check, towards the gate and looking for your seat in the vehicle. I don’t dare to go further. My mind can’t think of what you must have thought when the plane that was supposed to bring you to your destination suddenly fell out of the sky. I’m hoping for nothing, but I fear the worst.

I don’t know you. Also for me you’re an unknown victim of senseless violence. Yet my heart feels heavy. It feels heavy because I know that I could never imagine how it would be if you were my loved one. My mother, my grandfather, my friend or colleague.
I don’t know you, but yet you’re constantly on my mind. You, your loved ones and all the people who are mourning about you.

Rest in peace dear unknown. My heart and thoughts are with the people who have to miss you. Just because you could have been my loved one.

Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: what we know so far

• Death toll: Authorities have updated the death toll to 298 people killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, near the Russian border, to include three infants not counted earlier.

• Crash site: Ukrainian emergency workers have found the plane’s black box flight recorder, AFP has reported. It was earlier believed the recorder had been taken by pro-Russia separatists in the area.

• Audio: Audio was being circulated on social media, apparently released by Ukrainian security services, purporting to be an intercepted conversation of pro-Russia rebels confirming they had shot down a civilian jet.

• Airspace: Air safety experts have criticised Malaysia Airlines for flying over Ukraine airspace but the company maintains that the flight path was deemed safe to travel by civil aviation authorities.

Read more hereLive coverage  

New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise was among the first to see the wreckage of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. She joined Fresh Air to describe what she saw:

"It was like the end of the world looking at this thing. There were just a lot of people and a lot of bodies, but they weren’t immediately visible. The grasses were very high, and it was a very strange juxtaposition because, in fact, the landscape was quite beautiful. It was wheat fields, sunflower fields and a large grassy field where we were walking through. And you would come upon the bodies in their strange shapes and some of them were still strapped to their seats and it was hard to process it."

BULENT KILIC / Getty Images : Seats of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are pictured at the crash site, in a field near the village of Grabove, in the Donetsk region, on July 23, 2014

 

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