Satellite images show sheer scale of MH17 disaster

02:50, Jul 23 2014
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.
MH17 crash site
A satellite image shows the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine, in this July 20, 2014 DigitalGlobe handout photo.

The MH17 disaster could have been much worse, with the plane wreckage crashing just beside the town of Grabovo, breathtaking satellite images show.

The imagery shows 35 square kilometres of scorched and battered earth around the eastern Ukrainian village, with only a road separating the crash site and houses.

Pro-Russian rebels control the area and are suspected of blowing the plane out of the sky with a BUK missile launcher on Thursday afternoon (3am Friday, NZT). The crash killed 298 people, including one New Zealand passport holder and 38 Australians.

After days of lying in the humid summer heat, the bodies of 200 victims were transported to the northern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv overnight. 

But that sombre arrival was tempered by the fact that an original tally suggested that all 298 victims were on the train. Jan Tuinder, the Dutch leader of the international investigation, was adamant:  "They will be found. I know that we do have to go back to sweep the (crash) area. It's an enormous area we all know that. It's more than 14 kilometres in length."

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