The worst thing about MH17

Death in itself is nothing to fear. We know it will happen, and we know it has to happen, for otherwise the world would become even more crowded. It is the time and the manner of death that we fear.

Regarding the latter, lies are being told every day. “He was dead instantly”, “it happened so quickly, she didn’t even realize what was going on”, “they didn’t feel any pain” two men misinform the bereaved family across the door sill before they return to their sedan to work down the list with eight remaining names and addresses scattered throughout the state like cow dung on a meadow, wondering where to stop for lunch.

A Boeing 777 working hard on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur fell from the sky over Ukraine on 17 July 2014. Everyone on board died.

The plane was shot down, which happens surprisingly often to unsuspecting civilian aircraft. It was nothing personal against Malaysia Airlines or anyone on board. Quite the contrary, it was one of these accidents bound to happen when a bunch of separatist rebels get new a weapons system and nobody volunteers to read the thick manual. Like when you got that air gun for your 14th birthday, or – for my American readers – the AR-15 assault rifle for your 8th.

Once again, some airline dude or the coroner or a priest is going to tell the families that their disappeared sons and moms “didn’t feel a thing”. Except that this time we know it’s not true. Looking at these photos from the crash site, I can see a lot of items looking better preserved than in most children’s bedrooms. These books aren’t bent or burnt, these clothes aren’t torn or seared.

MH17 teddy

MH17 t-shirt Amsterdam

MH17 LP Bali

If books don’t burn and teddy bears don’t bleed to death, then at least some of the passengers must have survived the impact of the missile as well. This has always been my worst fear when flying: the scenario of a disintegrating plane and me, still conscious, falling for several minutes, towards certain and brutal death, with no way to stop or shorten the suffering. Plus hundreds of other people in the air, all screaming or texting on their phones as they race towards potato fields and power lines. Plop – plop – plop, three hundred times.

After seeing these photos, I know my fear was justified. I will make it a point to prefer trains and boats on my future travels. Or maybe planes should be equipped with extra explosives to ensure a sudden and truly painless death.

(Klicken Sie hier für die deutsche Fassung dieses Beitrags.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Military, Russia, Technology, Terrorism, Travel, Ukraine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The worst thing about MH17

  1. Lana says:

    Though putting it into context doesn’t make flying so scary- the survival rate of plane crashes is something like 97%. Even in serious crashes your chances of survival are still very high (around 70% I think).

    You’re more likely to die from an accident in your bathroom than you are to die in a plane crash, yet none of us feel at all afraid in the shower. The odds are in my favour, I think I’ll keep that plane ticket.

    • I actually do feel very afraid in the shower. I always lock the bathroom door.

    • Lana says:

      What if the murderer is already in the bathroom? You’ve just added precious seconds to your escape.

    • You are scaring me. From now on I will put a heavy object on the toilet, so that no attacker could even come that way.

    • Dante says:

      This does not suffice. The greatest risk is the often slippery floor, and because of this, @Lana wrote about an accident rather than about murder.

    • List of X says:

      A locked door is probably not going to help if you have an accident in the shower :)

    • It will help to prevent photos of the accident being taken by a paparazzo.

    • List of X says:

      Unless your shower accident somehow involves Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lawrence, you’re probably safe.

    • Dante says:

      It is also more dangerous to go by car. The big difference is the lack of even the illusion of control in a plane, whereas in a car (or in your bathroom), you can think that the chance ofyour survival mainly depends on yourself. It is a bit like being in a shelter during an airstrike versus being a soldier in a battle. Elder People (Dieter Hildebrandt, for example, as far as I remember) tell us that even wearers of the Iron Cross or the Knights’ Cross were scared shitless in a shelter because they could do nothing to make their survival more probable, although the objective risk was surely much lower.

    • Lana says:

      That makes a lot of sense actually.

  2. Pingback: MH17: kein schöner Tod | Der reisende Reporter

  3. Network Admin says:

    By the way, the US finally produced the “evidence” that the rebels shoot the plane. (at around 1:50)

  4. Tim Burford says:

    Actually they’d have passed out almost instantly from cold and lack of oxygen. And so would you, fear not.

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