What does the deployed oxygen mask on MH17 signify?

So the Dutch Foreign Minister made a boo-boo by revealing that one Australian passenger was found to have an oxygen mask around his neck. He has been criticised  for revealing this information which found no mention in the preliminary Dutch report. The crash investigators and NATO (why NATO?) have also been vehement in denying that this changes anything in the preliminary report. The final report is not due till summer 2015.

NYTFrans Timmermans, the foreign minister, mentioned the discovery of the oxygen mask late Wednesday during an appearance on a popular Dutch television talk show, where an interviewer brought up the July 17 crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298 people.

Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor’s office, expressed dismay about the disclosure on Thursday. He confirmed that forensics experts had found a yellow plastic oxygen mask around the neck of a male victim among the bodies that arrived at Eindhoven Air Base a week after the crash.

Why the fuss? Why would it be significant whether the oxygen masks had deployed or not?

The point apparently is that if the aircraft had been brought down by a Russian ground-to-air BUK missile – fired by the rebels – then the aircraft would have failed catastrophically and there would have been no time for the oxygen masks to deploy. All on board would have died almost instantaneously.

If instead MH17 had been brought down by a Ukrainian fighter jet – as the Russians suggest – then the air-to-air missile would not have been as immediately catastrophic as the much more powerful BUK missile. Then there may well have been time for some of the oxygen masks to deploy – even if the aircraft was later “finished off” by cannon fire. I am given to understand that the size of the wreckage found is not consistent with just an air-to-air missile but could be consistent with cannon fire subsequent to a missile. More tellingly, some of the many, small and uniform “shrapnel holes” found could have well been due to external cannon fire. The Russians keep asking why the cockpit – ground control conversations have not been released but I have not seen any convincing explanation for that information being withheld.

Analysis: The shrapnel came from outside the plane
Many of the holes are relatively small … … and uniform in size.

Mr. Foster said the contour of the aluminum and the blistering of the paint around many of the holes indicate that small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel entered the aircraft externally. 

MH 17: Shrapnel or external cannon fire? image NYT

It is also possible that that some tampering took place on the ground after the event. This is implied by some of the statements attributed to “officials”. However, it seems improbable that somebody – a pro-Russian rebel is implied – could have looked for and found an intact oxygen mask – especially if they had not been deployed – to drape around one of the victims’ neck.

But the bottom line is that if there was time for the oxygen masks to deploy then it is more likely that a Ukrainian jet was responsible rather than a BUK missile. Such a “politically incorrect” conclusion would not be acceptable for NATO. It is unlikely that any final report will come to any such clear conclusion. I am afraid that the final MH17 Crash Investigation Report will be – and maybe already is – compromised. The final conclusions will be contaminated by political agendas.

But the oxygen mask does make the theory about a Ukrainian jet being responsible a tad more likely.

Whoever was responsible, 298 innocent people were killed.

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2 Responses to “What does the deployed oxygen mask on MH17 signify?”

  1. Dutch prosecutor does not rule out possibility of Ukrainian fighter shooting down MH17 | The k2p blog Says:

    […] few weeks ago I speculated that the finding of a deployed oxygen mask on one of the victims gave some credence to the theory […]

  2. MH17: Dutch PM’s call for “independent” inquiry adds weight to Russian theory | The k2p blog Says:

    […] theory was initially ridiculed by the Ukrainians, NATO countries and the western media. But a few weeks ago the Dutch investigators let slip the information that at least one Oxygen mask had been deployed […]

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