Shocking new video emerges of MH17 crash aftermath

Posted at 9:50 AM, Nov 17, 2014

(CNN) — As the huge plume of black smoke fills the sky, people react with shock and confusion.

Some run to try to tackle small blazes, others stand and stare.

Captured on what appears to be a cellphone video, the scene is believed to be the immediate aftermath of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine four months ago.

The footage emerged online over the weekend, just as the removal of wreckage from the crash site for an international investigation finally began.

The video was posted on YouTube by the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, which said it depicts the moments after the passenger jet came down.

It shows fire raging in field with bits of wreckage strewn nearby.

Tongue-lashing for Putin at G20

Flight 17 was shot down on July 17 with 298 people on board over territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists. The dispute over who is responsible for the disaster continues to taint relations between Moscow and the West.

The United States and other Western nations have accused the pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile. But Moscow and the rebels have claimed Ukrainian forces were responsible.

The continuing disagreement, as well as Russia’s broader interference in Ukraine, prompted bouts of strong criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin by Western leaders at the G20 summit in Australia over the weekend.

Putin left the event earlier than his fellow world leaders Sunday, saying he had to rest before a busy Monday. But he described the discussions at the summit as “constructive.”

He also expressed the view that the Ukraine crisis “has good chances for resolution.”

Ukraine prepared for ‘total war’

His comments contrast with the words coming from the Ukrainian government in Kiev, amid reports that Russian troops and weapons are moving into eastern Ukraine.

“We are prepared for a scenario of total war,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reportedly told the German newspaper Bild. “We don’t want war, we want peace and we are fighting for European values. But Russia does not respect any agreement.”

Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations from Kiev and Western governments that it has sent forces into eastern Ukraine to bolster the rebels.

A ceasefire agreement reached in September between the Ukrainian government and the separatists no longer appears to have any connection with the reality on the ground.

Exchanges of mortar fire are common in eastern Ukraine.

Residents in the shattered town of Debaltseve told CNN’s Phil Black that artillery fired by both sides falls there almost every day, often destroying homes.

Removal of MH17 wreckage

Amid the chaotic conflict, Dutch investigators have been trying to recover the wreckage from MH17.

Everyone aboard the flight was killed. Around two-thirds of the victims were from the Netherlands.

The vast crash site was left unsecured, and international investigators struggled to reach the area as fighting raged.

The removal of the wreckage began Sunday and continued Monday, the Dutch Safety Board said. It is expected to take several days.

The wreckage will be transported by train to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv before being flown to the Netherlands.

The investigators say they intend to reconstruct a section of the aircraft to help determine what happened.

Further investigation needed

In its preliminary report in September on the disaster, the Dutch agency said Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of “high-energy objects” from outside.

That report set out a list of areas that still need further investigation, including forensic examination of wreckage and any foreign objects found. It noted at the time that Dutch investigators still hadn’t been able to visit the site amid the unstable situation in eastern Ukraine.

In the aftermath of the crash, the rebels were widely accused of looting the site, tampering with the evidence and stopping investigators from combing through the wreckage.

After an initial delay, most of the bodies of the victims have been removed from the area and transported out of Ukraine.

But as recently as September, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was likely that there were still remains strewn across the fields. Australia had 38 of its citizens and residents on the plane.