Dutch minister in row over MH17 oxygen mask claims

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Dutch minister in row over MH17 oxygen mask claims

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The Dutch foreign minister has become embroiled in a row after claiming in a TV interview that one of the passengers killed in the Malaysia Airlines plane crash over Ukraine was wearing an oxygen mask.

Frans Timmermans’ comments were taken to imply some of those on board flight MH17 might have been conscious after the missile struck.

The public prosecutor has responded saying one passenger had a mask around his neck but not on the mouth as the minister suggested.

Relatives of the victims were not informed.

Veeru Mewa, a lawyer for some of them, said: “It’s frustrating. People are looking for pieces of the puzzle, every bit of information is weighed up. They’re in the middle of grieving, which is already perturbed by the slow, difficult identification process and the fact that research in Ukraine isn’t possible. This sort of information leads to confusion.”

The minister apologised, but it is not the first time he has raised the possibility that passengers may have been conscious.

Nearly 300 mostly Dutch people died when the plane crashed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine in July.

Initial inquiry results said it had exploded after being hit by “high-speed projectiles”.