IT IS HARD to conceive of an unfolding news story worse in its horror than the events in Gaza where at least 87 people were reported killed yesterday. A “humanitarian truce” had been agreed but broke down in less than an hour.
But latest news from the site of the MH17 air plane crash in eastern Ukraine is equally shocking. As the remains of up to 196 people from the wreckage have been loaded on to refrigerated rail wagons to be taken to an unknown destination, the US State Department has cited multiple reports of bodies and aircraft parts being removed, and potential evidence tampered with. Meanwhile an international news agency has reported heavy machinery has been moving plane debris around at the crash site.
It is truly outrageous that pro-Russian rebels, who have been accused of shooting down the Malaysian airliner with the deaths of all 298 on board, have had untrammelled access to the wreckage – and able to remove evidence that may identify the source of the missile that brought the plane down last Thursday.
Western countries have criticised pro-Russian rebels controlling the area for restricting access to the crash site. Only now, after the chaos of the two days after the plane was shot down, have the pro-Russian terrorists been replaced by former riot policemen who formed a cordon around the area of the crash site.
But this is no substitute for a contingent of UN troops and officially sanctioned rescue workers to take control. And of the all-reaching independent investigation demanded by the UN Security Council there is still no sign.
This is, of course, a most daunting and politically fraught area for rescue workers and international inspectors to gain safe access. Eastern Ukraine is a war zone. But this is an international outrage, involving citizens of many countries, and the basic protocols of humanitarian intervention and supervision must surely be given urgent priority. While local volunteers have been searching the fields and pinpointing belongings and remains for the emergency services, this unsupervised intervention has given rise to fears of important evidence being disturbed.
As for the gun-toting rebels on site, they appear more concerned with the local military balance than with warnings from Western leaders against tampering with evidence. Monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the pro-Russian gunmen “allowed” them to visit more of the area on Saturday.
That is an unacceptable state of affairs. So, too, is the evident undisputed control of the local rebel leader in Torez over a freight train with its five refrigeration wagons believed to contain 196 bodies. As if the shooting down of a civilian airliner was not horror enough, the subsequent overrunning of the crash site by armed thugs completes an episode of deep shame for the civilised world.
Magnificent McIlroy gets into swing
FROM the first hole to the last, Rory McIlroy’s triumph at Hoylake yesterday to win his first Open Championship and third major title was a class act. He started in dazzling form and crucially held his nerve when it mattered, with a two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler on an exciting final day.
Little wonder that the crowd became increasingly raucous as the tension built. But the young Northern Irishman stayed focused to reach the 18th hole with a three-shot lead over Garcia and the resurgent Fowler. He completed a final round of 71 to finish 17 under par, with Garcia coming within two strokes of his rival when the heat was really on. This remarkable victory means that McIlroy joins Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three of golf’s modern majors by the age of 25. Indeed, he has just the Masters left to complete a career Grand Slam.
There was no lack of famous names for golf aficionados to follow in this riveting Open. Tiger Woods, still chasing a 15th major title, finished on 75 to be six over in only his second tournament since March after returning from back surgery. And the 64-year-old Tom Watson, playing in what is likely to be his penultimate Open Championship before retiring at St Andrews next year, carded 68 to end one over.
This was a tournament that showed off the best in golf – tenacity, skill, professionalism – and steel nerve. It marks a stunning achievement by McIlroy who deserves every congratulation. It tees up attention for the 40th Ryder Cup contest at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles on 26-28 September, when he will be a key member of the European team. The world will be watching, and expecting.