One of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 was found wearing an oxygen mask, the Dutch foreign minister told a late-night chat show, casting doubt over some expert analysis victims died within seconds. Frans Timmermans apologized Thursday for making the surprise revelation. A lawyer for the families said his clients were outraged they had not been told first.
"People are shocked when they hear this and wonder what other information there is but isn't shared," lawyer Veeru Mewa told Dutch television. Timmermans was asked on talk show "Pauw" on Wednesday night whether he had over-dramatized a speech to the United Nations in which he tried to imagine the passengers' final moments. Many experts say the passengers would have died in the explosive decompression that followed the impact of the missile blamed for bringing the Boeing 777 down over Ukraine. But Timmermans told TV host Jeroen Pauw: "Do you know that someone was found with an oxygen mask on their mouth — and so they had the time to put it on?" In his apology, Timmermans clarified that the mask was found around the neck of the passenger, an Australian, rather than their mouth. The crash site was left unsecured for weeks and was allegedly tampered with by Russian rebels.
- Alexander Smith