* Debris, bodies scattered over several kilometres
* Kiev, rebels dispute what brought down airliner
By Anton Zverev
HRABOVE, Ukraine, July 17 A lone fireman stood
hosing down a smouldering pile of wreckage and mangled bodies on
Thursday after a Malaysian passenger airliner was brought down
in fields in eastern Ukraine.
To reach the wreckage, media crews, emergency vehicles,
locals and rebels - fighting to unite the eastern territory with
Russia - drove around body parts along a narrow pot-holed road
beside the fields, where the dead were strewn over an area of
several kilometres (miles).
The debris from the plane, which came down near the village
of Hrabove about 40 km (25 miles) from the border with Russia,
was scattered across such a large area that one piece of metal
fell on the town of Snezhnye, some 20 km away, residents said.
What or who brought down the plane, killing all 295
passengers and crew aboard, was disputed but there was no doubt
that those on board had no chance of survival.
"There was a loud bang. I got scared because it sounded so
close. I looked up and there were black bits raining down in
every direction," said a witness, who gave his name only as
Vladimir and said he had been working nearby in his tractor.
"Then I saw the plane hit the ground and break in two. There
was thick black smoke," he said.
A broken wing lay in one part of a wide field and the tail
fin in another, the red and blue markings of the Malaysian
Airlines Boeing 777 clearly visible.
Twisted hunks of metal, parts of the broken fuselage, also
lay by the side of the road, with the seats now empty. A large
sheet of metal lined with oval holes, where the plane's windows
once were, lay flattened on the scorched earth.
Shirtless local villagers carried bits of the fuselage out
of their back yards, lined by weathered wood-picket fences.
SOME BODIES INTACT
Some of the victims lying on the ground were naked, their
clothing apparently destroyed by the blazing plane and their
limbs twisted at awkward angles.
A few bodies were bloodied but still largely intact, though
others were in pieces.
Recovery workers left signs where the bodies were found and
many were taken away. A travel guide for the island of Bali lay
on the ground.
Just three fire trucks, one ambulance and one hearse were
parked nearby as pro-Russian separatist fighters in combat
fatigues sifted through the wreckage. They were from a local
group of fighters known as the Vostok (East) battalion.
One man collected passports from the bodies strewn across
the field and drew up a list of the victims' names.
"From my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great
height and then heard two explosions," said one separatist from
nearby Krasnyi Luch who gave his name only as Sergei.
He denied the rebels had shot the plane down.
"This could happen only if it was a fighter jet or a
surface-to-air missile (that shot it down)," he said, noting
that the rebels did not have weapons capable of shooting down a
plane at such a height.
Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, disputed that,
blaming the incident on "terrorists" and Ukraine's state
security chief accused two Russian military intelligence
officers of involvement in the downing of the plane.
(Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Louise Ireland)