(CNN) – Bodies, backpacks, passports and other piles of debris lay splayed across a miles-long area in the remote area in eastern Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 came down. The crash site is massive — an international observer called it “one of the biggest — or the biggest — crime scenes in the world right now.”
Concern is growing that the site has not been sealed off as it should have been and that vital evidence is being tampered with. Meanwhile, armed rebels have greeted international observers with hostility.
Experts say that this crash investigation is unprecedented due to the site’s immense size and the lack of access given to investigators.
With so many questions over what happened to MH17 unanswered, experts say it is crucial that the scene is protected. What should be being done on the ground?
How should a crash site be secured?
Keeping the crash site sterile is one of the most important steps that authorities take during the investigation, David Deas, the former spokesman for the U.K. Department of Transport, told CNN’s Hala Gorani.
“It would be sealed off by security forces or law enforcement,” Deas said.
After the site is secured, analyzing and removing the debris is an arduous process.
“They will need a convoy of trucks for the victims. They’ll need a convoy of flatbed trucks, cranes to remove the debris. They’ll need a location to take the debris to where it can be reassembled, examined and determine what exactly happened to the aircraft.”
Although investigators need to survey the crash site to figure out what happened, the first order of business is to collect the victims’ remains, according to Fuentes.
Investigators also say that the proving who and what was responsible for the crash lies among the wreckage.
“The only way that (culpability) is going to be truly determined is by the hard, physical evidence to prove that something did hit the aircraft,” David Soucie, a former accident investigator, told “New Day.”
Soucie says that evidence from the crash site can help investigators prove whether something hit the plane, what direction a missile might have come from and how far away the projectile was when it was launched.
In addition, the wreckage itself can create hazardous conditions for nearby populations, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
And the airline industry can also use the information about what exactly took down the Boeing 777 when they construct newer planes.
What should happen to the bodies of victims?
The bodies still have not been removed, more than two days after the incident, spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said from the crash site. Observers on the ground say they are starting to decompose and bloat. And with the summer heat, there are notable health implications if the bodies remain outside for too long,
The remains need to be stored in cool temperatures. And there are nearby facilities where they could be stored — like an ice-cream factory, Bociurkiw said.
However, the facilities “are not prepared to receive” the dead, according to Bociurkiw. The crash site is large and difficult to access, nearby roads are closed and there is a lack of electricity due to the accident.