Dutch RTL Nieuws journalist Jeroen Akkermans published a breaking story in March 2015 on MH17 .
He reported that he found parts of a BUK missile and warhead fragments at the crash site. He found these parts at November 10 or November 11 2014 and had them analyzed by independant experts.
One interesting part found by Akkermans was a bow-tie shaped piece of rusted material. It looks like to be shrapnel part of the BUK warhead.
One of the experts who looked at this fragment was Nicolas De Larrinaga of Janes. His quote published by RTL is “From the hour-glass form we can gather all the characteristics of an impact of a 9N314 warhead fragment. This fits perfectly.”
The item can be seen here. If you are unable to watch (for some reason people abroad see an error message) then click here for a mirror of the RTL video)
This is the bow-tie shaped fragment which could be a part of the BUK warhead
Rusty warhead fragment. Consists of a layer of alloyed steel. Strongly deformed and folded. (picture Jeroen Akkermans / RTL News).
The item as shown in the RTL Nieuws broadcast can be seen here.
However, judging by the exact position where the bow-tie was found by Akkermans, the fact the bow-tie was loose on the floor and the fact that the wreckage piece was turned over by people since the crash, it is likely this bow-tie was planted by someone.
It is also remarkable that the wreckage part in which Akkermans found the bow-tie was recovered by DSB just one week later.
Let us have a closer look.
Akkermans showed in his item the exact piece of wreckage where he found a fragment part of the BUK warhead. Mind the inner side of the fuselage can be seen!
The debris was found in wreckage located near the chicken farm close to Hrabove. In the left picture you can see the farm buildings.
The same piece of wreckage was photographed months earlier before Akkermans made this video. At that time the piece was upside down.
In this animation made by Michael Kobs who used Google Earth images, we see this piece of wreckage. Then the piece is turned around, and then removed. It was turned around betwee August 1 and 3 2014.
In a very detailed story published by Jeroen Akkermans at March 21 2016, the Dutch journalist showed for the first time a close-up of the location where the bow-tie fragment was located when he found it.
The photo is shown below. In the middle of the photo the bow-tie fragment can be spotted. It was in a pool of water. To the left probably one of the windows can be seen.
Akkermans found the piece somewhere near the window most right on the photo below. There is no fragment damage such as an entry hole to be seen anywhere on the wreckage.
Mind the photos below where made shortly after July 17 2014. The wreckage was at that time not turned.
This video shows the wreckage part at 53 seconds into the video.
What was the location of the wreckage?
Using the final DSB report on the MH17 crash we can locate where this piece of wreckage was exactly found.
The location is 2 km south, southwest of Hrabove. DSB describes the wreckage as ‘left hand fuselage between door 3L and 4L’. This image shows the exact location indicated by the number 9. The image can be seen at page 69 of the english language final DSB report.
Now lets look where this part is exactly located on the fuselage of a Boeing 777. The yellow circle shows the part of fuselage where Akkermans found the fragment of a BUK warhead. It is located between door 3 and door 4. Almost at the back of the fuselage.
The image is taken from Appendix X of the NLR report published by DSB.
Could the bow-tie have entered the aircraft during the explosion?
Jeroen Akkermans stated in his item ” part of the warhead went through the body of MH-17 just behind the cockpit and was deformed’.
However this cannot be correct. It is impossible a small fragment has enough energy to penetrate the fuselage near the cockpit and finish somewhere in the back.
DSB reconstructed only the cockpit and part of the business class. The final report did not state anything about fragment damage observed on parts behind the business class section.
Let us now take a look at the field of distribution of BUK missile fragments. Page 57 of the Appendix X of DSB final report shows the image below. It shows the impact zone of the BUK missile based on a location near the cockpit where the missile exploded. The impact zone is based on a launch in the area south of Snizhne.
The image makes clear the back of the aircraft (between door L3 and door L4) can impossible have been directly hit by fragments of a BUK missile.
While the wreckage does show a couple of rather large entry holes, these are likely to have been caused during the crash by hitting other objects or just by brute force.
So that leaves two options:
- the fragment was kind of absorbed/sucked/catched into into the fuselage during the fall
- someone put the fragment in the wreckage after the crash
It is unlikely the fragment entered the cockpit and ended somewhere in the back of the fuselage. Firstly there is no mentioning of passengers being hit by fragments. Secondly the fragment would not have enough energy to travel all the way to the back.
Could it be that the fragment entered the fuselage during the breakup of the fuselage? Very unlikely. The fuselage from the wings section towards the tail was largely intact when the aircraft smashed into the ground. The fuselage part where the fragment was found was located very close to the location where the biggest part of the fuselage including the wings crashed.
The part was found and photographed with the inside of the fuselage facing the ground. Akkersmans found the fuselage including the fragment in November turned around. If a fragment was stuck into this wreckage from the direct hit it would still be stuck.
Could it be the fragment was moved to the final position when the piece of wreckage was turned around? Could be but unlikely. If a fragment was not stuck in the fuselage at July 17 it would have likely fallen on the ground when the wreckage was turned around later.
Was it a BUK fragment at all ?
The bow-tie shaped piece found by Akkermans could be a part of a BUK. It could be something else. The DSB report is not clear. It only mentions this in the document titled ‘About the investigation’.
We cannot conclude anything from the statement of DSB.
The photo left shows a bow-tie in a warhead that did not explode. The warhead was rusted as you can see. The photo right shows the bow-tie found by Akkerman.
Recovery of the wreckage where the bow-tie was found.
According the Appendix of the final report made by DSB, the recovery of the MH17 wreckage started November 16 2014 and lasted till November 22.
This photo was taken at November 18 according Globaltimes.cn. It shows very likely the recovery of the wreckage in which Akkermans found the bow-tie. Remember Akkermans found the bow-tie in this wreckage at November 10 or November 11.
If the bow-tie has been planted, when?
It seems very likely the bow-tie was planted just before Akkermans discovered it. It is very unlikely the bow-tie has been in the wreckage ever since July 17. Akkermans found the bow-tie very easily without having to do all kind of weird movements during his searching. So if the bow-tie was there since the crash or since it was turned around, likely someone else would have found it. Remember that piece of wreckage was not located somewhere remote. It was a few hundred meters from the main crash site which was visited by many people.
So if someone planted the bow-tie, it could be the purpose to either be found by Akkermans or by the recovery team. The recovery team recovered the wreckage at the most 8 days after Akkermans visited the crash site.
Akkermans describes he was together with his cameraman on the field. The taxidriver was sleeping in his car. It is not impossible that someone knew about Akkermans plans to stray for two days on the crashsite. Mobile phones are tapped. A fixer could have connections to a secret service.
If the bow-tie was planned, why and who would benefit?
Another hard to answer question. DSB/JIT found just a couple of bow-tie shaped fragments. The bow-tie is only used in the 9N314M warhead part of a BUK missile. 9N314M is in use by both Russia and Ukraine.
By planting a bow-tie, Russia was included as a state which could have shot down MH17. So in that case Ukraine could have planted the bow-tie.
Russia could also have planted the bow-tie to contaminate evidence. However it would make more sense to plant a non bow-tie shaped fragment of an older warhead not in use by Russia.
Could the location of the debris provide an indication?
This blogpost shows the distribution of warhead fragments from a launch near Snizhne and a launch from near Zaroshens’kye.
A launch from Zaroshens’kye makes it a bit more likely a bow-tie ends up close to the tail. However in that case also additional penetrations of shrapnel in the lefthand fuselage would be observed. That is not the case.
If the bow-tie found by Akkermans was indeed planted, the person who did it likely was not aware of were exactly the wreckage was originally located in the fuselage of the Boeing 777.
Manipulation of evidence is nothing new. In October 2014 photos where published showing brown square pieces attached to the headrest of one of the pilotseats. DSB did not report on this and till today the source of this pieces are unknown.
Jeroen Akkermans describes other cases of manipulation in his article.
- Green paint was removed from the wing
- Bones were all of a sudden discovered at the crash site. The next day all bones were removed