Was black smoke in “BUK” plume photo caused by a diesel locomotive?

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The famous 2 photos made from a Torez apartment building which could show the smoke plume of a BUK missile, in fact shows two colours of smoke. A grey/black smoke plume which  stays close to the ground and a white plume which reaches a much higher altitude.

The cause of the black smoke was likely from a diesel locomotive and not from a BUK missile as stated by Bellingcat.

Update : At June 13 2017 Daniel of Bellingcat stated the black smoke could also be from a locomotive.

Both photos are combined in the animated GIF shown below.

There has been a lot of discussion about these photos. It is not clear if indeed a smoke plume of a BUK missile is seen.

According to Bellingcat contributor Daniel Romein, the black/grey smoke on the left of the photo indicates the first stage of a BUK missile launch.

¨Even the cloud of grey smoke characteristic of the first stage of a Buk missile launch can be seen in the 17 July 2014 pictures.¨

Contrary to Bellingcat, independant researchers Charles Wood and Michael Kobs both concluded the black smoke and the white trail could not be related.

Hector Reban wrote a detailed blogpost about the smoke plume here. Also Max van der Werff concluded the photos show two different smoke plumes not related to eachother.

Location of the black smoke

The location of the black smoke is very likely a source close to the Voskresenskaya mine . The image below is shown at Bellingcat website. The mine is the black area on the upper side of the image.

The black smoke originates from the area encircled by the red circle.

This is another photo showing the location the black smoke came from.

Two likely sources for the black smoke are:

  1. a chimney at the   Voskresenskaya mine
  2. a diesel locomotive at the Voskresenskaya mine


These Panoramio show the mine. This one taken from a hill of the Kiselyov mine.

Here another photo (source)

Russia Today reporter Yana Yerlashova made the photo below at June 7th 2015 from 2 Microrayon 3 flat in Torez. The same location as the two photos made at July 17 2014.

The photo shows a black plume as well! However I have my doubts about this Russia Today reporter. In the BBC documentary “Conspiracy files: who shot down MH17” she states the apartment of the plume photos did not have windows facing the area the photos were made. That is not true. There is a balcony.

See the BBC program here.

GRAD fire

A possible reason for the black smoke can be GRAD fire. There was a lot of heavy fighting south of Snizhne around mid July.

It could also be a truck or something on fire. The video below shows GRAD fire.


Diesel locomotive?

The black smoke could be caused by a non-moving diesel locomotive used for pulling railway wagons for transporting coal. Exactly in the point of view of the photographer there is the Voskresenskaya mine. This is the location on Google Maps. 48.019932, 38.688084

At the southern boundary of the coal mine a railroad can be seen. Using Google Earth and selecting various dates we can see that there is activity on the railroad. At some dates we see railway wagons, sometimes there are none. Google Earth image of July 16 2014 shows railway wagons and also a slightly different coloured object which is likely a diesel locomotive. Based on the fact that the railroad has a dead end at the easterly direction, it is likely we see a locomotive which, when it starts moving, is pulling the wagons.

Below we see the Google Earth image of July 16 2014. The upper side of the image is the south. The white line indicates the possible locomotive.

This website made by train spotters shows the locomotives in use in Ukraine. It shows many types of diesel locomotives. Particular interesting are  the type 2TE116 (2ТЭ116) and the 2TE10 series of locomotives. The 2TE116 is a twin-section freight locomotive, used in eastern Ukraine. It has a white coloured roof.

Also the 2TE10 serie has a white roof.


When searching on internet for 2TE116 we find this interesting photo showing  2TE116 or 2TE10 with a lot of black smoke.

This video shows various 2TE10 locomotives exhausting a lot of black/grey smoke.


The image was made by a Russian trainspotter in an area in Russia.

This video shows a 2TE116 with black some as well.

Here another video showing lots of black smoke

Here more black smoke

The locomotive seen on the picture below was used to transport the bodies from Torez to Kharkiv. It is a different type then the locomotives seen in the pictures above.

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17 Comments on Was black smoke in “BUK” plume photo caused by a diesel locomotive?

  1. Charles Wood // June 16, 2016 at 9:28 am // Reply

    I recall that Michael Kobs and I both worked on the assumption that the black smoke was a ground fire pushed down-wind. Micha may wish to confirm that.

    Irrespective, the Romein interpretation is completely wrong. There are no ‘two-stages’ in the missile. It’s a single stage with a grain profile in the propellant designed to slow the burn rate over time. It’s the same propellant body but it burns faster in the initial period. It produces the same type of smoke. The best you will see is denser smoke near launch due to the higher burn rate and slower missile velocity.

    • Within Bcat troll circles the story of a first-stage exhaust showing a dark trail or a dark part, is still running. Now anything goes: the dark smoke is from a burning field AND a first stage exhaust.

      Its my experience in general Higgins’ opinion and theirs don’t show many indiscrepancies.

      Thats why I asked him the question what it will be in the upcoming July report in which these photos will be revitalized by expert testimonies: the first stage exhaust (Romijn line) or the burning field or both?

      Unfortunately I got no response 😉

    • This is what a real Buk launch looks like:


      The grey part of the plume consists of dust and debris from the ground, and not of smike from the rocket propellent itself.

  2. Michael Kobs // June 16, 2016 at 9:35 am // Reply

    Right, both plumes are unrelated. The Bellingcat scenarion is physically impossible. A missile trail reaches the full height in about 3 seconds.
    Even if dry wheat would catch fire in about 0.5 seconds exposed to heat (and a lot of “wind”) then the smoke would start to rise slowly. In the meantime the missle trail travels with the wind. Once the wheat fire is big enough to generate enough smoke that smoke travels in exactly the same wind.
    For that smoke (rising later and slowly from the ground) it is impossible to overcome the missile trail in the lateral movement and it is more impossible to rise ~300m at the same time.
    One would need two different windspeeds at the very same spot. Therefore the black smoke MUST BE unrelated to that white column no matter what the source is.

    • I agree that the black smoke is unrelated.

      +Typically when dry field burn, it generate white or light grey smoke.
      (I’ve done perhaps 500km2 of burn-clearing of hay fields in my life.)

      • But the interesting thing the overlay shows is the white part does not change in shape in 7 seconds – whereas the black smoke disperses.

        So the plume has been dispersed by diffusion to a fat 80-100 m width, is somehow still visible after >80 sec after launch, but doesn’t change anymore by windshear and diffusion.

        Can’t imagine its genuine.

        • The wind conditions around black smoke are totally different from the possible launch site.
          +Not sure if the resolution is high enough to say there is no windshear at all on the white/grey plume.

          If the image is fake, I say the SBU dude is pretty good and fast photoshopper (I thought they all are amateur idiots that can not even differentiate a friend vs foe HW).

          ((IMO: width+movement+timing and possibly the lack of windshear are good critics vs the photo.))

          • You can defintely see a huge difference between the spreading/dispersion of the black smoke and the white plume in those 7 seconds. Even with a low resolution.

            Its a mystery how the black and white smoke got mixed with eachother to display something that looks like one plume that has experienced windshear.

            Of course we don’t know what we are lookaing at and if they forged it, how they did it. But it must have been some kind of unnatural, Divine Design to get a plume like this.

            Have you seens the reply WowihaY had when he had read this article admin mentions? I have posted it in my latest blog post.

          • Hector, it’s possible that the photographer also took other pictures at slightly different times that show the two plumes with a gap between them, instead of aligned as if they were a single plume. They could have been blocked from publication because they don’t support the Buk narrative. I’m not sure if you were hinting at that.

          • “Have you seens the reply WowihaY had when he had read this article admin mentions?”
            I think I’ve not seen that one.

          • Brendan:

            No, he didn’t make more photos. Admin has received thumbnails of a sequence of 10 photos.


          • Brendan // June 16, 2016 at 3:03 pm //

            Hector, I don’t see any evidence that he didn’t take other photos, made copies of them and then deleted them from the original folder. That can’t be proved but it can’t be disproved either.

            That list shows that he took two photos of the plume less than a minute apart, and five minutes later he took six more of the crash site within a minute of each other. That’s plenty of time in between to take more of the plume. He could also have taken some before the first plume pic.

          • Brendan:
            Are you suggesting Aleynikov forged his EXIF data AND deleted better proof for the plume at the same time?

          • Brendan // June 17, 2016 at 8:57 pm //

            Hector, maybe I didn’t explain clearly what he might have deleted.

            The photographer, or maybe the SBU or some other pro-Kiev people, might possibly have deleted photos that
            showed that the black and the white plumes were separate from one another. So they might have selected for publication only the remaining two photos, which appear to show a single plume originating from the alleged launch site.

  3. Antidyatel // June 17, 2016 at 6:17 am // Reply

    Admin, was there an explanation before, why the plume in your animation is not changing even by a pixel between two photos, while trees and other structures on horizon shift so much laterally? I understand that by legend two photos are taken slightly from different positions, but lateral shift in relation to plume is enormous.

  4. Michael Kobs // June 17, 2016 at 10:01 am // Reply

    Both missile trails are layered one above the other. This was done to see/show the (missing) change in the column itself and on the other hand to analyze the lateral movement of that column. So the trees “jump” exactly the distance to the left the column floated with the wind to the right. Even the source of the black smoke didn’t move but you easily see the effect of the wind on the black smoke close to the source. Close to the column the black smoke do not change either.
    Another problem is the windspeed. If the wind moved that column in the alleged distance of the burnt field (12200m) and within 7 sec according to the metadata of the photo then you need a windspeed of more than 8m/s. That’s above the highest reported windspeed that day but let’s say it is possible.
    About 260 sec later the same photographer shot a photo of the MH17 plume. The mushrooming smoke already floated ~2800 meters. At the necessary windspeed that mushrooming plume alredy travelled for 350 seconds to reach that distance.
    One would conclude that the plume was about 100 sec old while the photograper shot the missile column. Possibly may be but the debris fell more that 90 seconds and the missile flew about 30 seconds. Hence, the missile would be launched 100+90+30=220 seconds prior to the photograph of the missile trail column.
    Can you still follow?
    220 sec / 7 sec = 31.5
    Take the distance the column travelled within 7 seconds. The launch spot would be more than 31 times that distance to the left of the column in the photo. That simple calculation places the launch spot far away form that burnt field in the center of Snizhne.
    The question is, what is wrong with the calculation or the data or the photos???
    The direction of the wind is proven East->West +/-3°. Bellingcat and their believers deny it. I asked several times for the timecode of photo DCS_9273.nef to clearify the windspeed. Bellingcat claim to have the NEFs but do not give away the timecode allegedly to save the privacy of the photographer. Instead of any clarification Bellingcat just stated the clock of the camera was wrong. How do they know it??? They do not! They just adjusted the data to their story. And btw a wrong clock doesn’t change anything to the calculation because I only used the relative time differences of these photos.

    May be Bellingcat just claiming to have the NEFs as they stated to have bought the satellite image of Donezk. Now we know they just bought N21 because they were that sure to find the BUK there.

  5. Mr.Bushkin // June 22, 2016 at 12:12 pm // Reply

    No, no, no! Even if some people may see a field here ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1KQGEuFM0E ), in reality it’s Putin!

    Some other people may see two missiles being launched. Do not believe these Putinists!

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