Passengers quickly lost consciousness after missile strike

Malaysia Airlines

Researchers from the University of Delft say that passengers on flight MH17 who did not die as a direct consequence of the missile strike lost consciousness within just a few seconds after, and were therefore not likely to experience much if any trauma. 

According to Professor Joris Melkert of Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft, it is impossible that passengers were conscious when flight MH17 crashed into the ground. In this way, the professor answers a persistent question and point of turmoil for the surviving relatives of the victims.

The expert explains that air pressure at that altitude is a quarter of what we are used to on the ground, meaning that oxygen is also a quarter. The air pressure and oxygen levels inside aircrafts are regulated, but because the aircraft was hit with shrapnel from an SA-11 rocket, the air pressure and oxygen levels suddenly dropped. "Whoever is suddenly exposed to that will lose consciousness very quickly", Melkert says.

"There is simply not enough oxygen to breathe in. Next to that, the temperature at this height lies between the minus-50 and minus-60 degrees (celsius), which has a very hefty reaction on the body. In such an extreme situation, you only remain functional for a very short time."

This is Professor Melkert's response to the emotional speech made by Minister Timmermans before the UN Security Council meeting on Monday, in which he attempted to give voice to the emotions running though the minds of the families who lost loved ones in this tragic event.