Europe

MH17 plane crash: 'The day we cannot forget'

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Media captionInna Tipunova told Tom Burridge how the body of a passenger landed in her house

On 17 July 2014, 60-year-old Inna Tipunova was with friends in her village, when they heard such a loud boom that they thought they "were being bombed".

She ran home. As she came through her gate she noticed some tiles had fallen from the roof.

Her son came out, and said: "There is a body in the kitchen."

"What body?" she replied.

But as she walked into her sparse, simple kitchen there was a pile of rubble on the floor, below a large hole in the ceiling.

And on top of the rubble, lay the barely-recognisable body of a woman.

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Media captionRebel footage of the aftermath of the MH17 disaster

The woman, whose name Inna never found out, was one of the 298 people killed when the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine a year ago.

"When I think about it, it is like it's real, as though it's happening now", said Inna.

"The picture is vivid."

'People will be punished'

Fighting back the tears, she speaks of how she imagines the "unbearable pain" of the woman's family, and her own grief for a stranger, murdered in the sky over her home.

In total 39 bodies lay scattered around Inna's village of Rossypnoye, and some were not collected for several days.

The local mayor, Oleg Miroshnichenko, says people in the area experienced a deep sense of shock and tragedy that "resonated with every human soul".

And he says the feelings have not gone away.

"It's an irreversible pain."

Image caption Inna Tipunova says she remembers the day of the crash vividly one year on

Inna, who wears a silver crucifix around her neck, believes some form of justice awaits those responsible for downing the plane.

"No matter what, the people who did it will be punished," she says.

Getting to the truth

Establishing who shot down flight MH17, how they did it, and from where, is the job of a Dutch-led international investigation team, which hopes to publish some of its findings in the new year.

As well as forensic work on the wreckage of the aircraft, the Dutch prosecutor leading that investigation, Fred Westerbeke, told the BBC that investigators had been studying "billions" of internet pages, and tens of thousands of photos and videos related to the downing of the airliner.

He confirmed that his team had spoken to about 140 witnesses, and identified a number of "persons of interest", but he said it was too early to identify them as suspects, or release their names or nationalities.

MH17 Malaysia plane crash

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Media captionTom Burridge visits the sites central to the different theories about MH17's crash

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MH17 crash: The 298 who perished

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Getting to the truth behind the downing of the airliner is a Herculean task, given the climate of mistruths and propaganda in eastern Ukraine, linked to the conflict in the region.

To counter accusations of bias, Mr Westerbeke said his team had to properly consider all theories and all claims.

"An alternative scenario, whoever brings it out, you have to prove that that could not have been the case", he said.

"We have to clear out all of the other options."

A separate investigation, being carried out by the Dutch Safety Board, is expected to publish its full findings in October.

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Image caption A file photograph from the aftermath of the crash shows wreckage punctured with holes

Its preliminary report, published last year, found that the plane broke up in mid-air after being hit by "objects" that "pierced the plane at high-velocity".

That analysis is consistent with possible shrapnel damage sustained from a surface-to-air-missile.

'Must not forget'

But for now, relatives of those who were killed are left waiting for answers.

Jeremy Pocock's 20-year-old son, Ben, was travelling on the plane.

He says it is "absolutely crucial" that those responsible are identified and brought in front of an international tribunal - an idea backed by several countries, including the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and now also Britain.

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Media captionJeremy Pocock talks about his son Ben, and what he hopes to hear from the investigation

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the first anniversary of the disaster, Mr Pocock called on the UK government to take a more robust position in the pursuit of justice for the 10 British victims on board the plane.

He also questioned why Russia had expressed scepticism about the idea of an international tribunal.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ben Pocock, 20, was studying international business at Loughborough University

"We mustn't lose sight of the fact that there were 80 children on that plane, including many babies," he said.

"Families were wiped out. There were numerous young adults, including Ben, who had barely started their adult lives, and in a blink of an eye, it was gone."

"We cannot and must not forget that."

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