Sky News apologizes after reporter looks through plane crash victim's bag

Luggage and other personal belongings from passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are seen near the crash site in eastern Ukraine. MAXIM ZMEYEV, REUTERS

Britain's Sky News has apologized after a correspondent reporting from eastern Ukraine rummaged through an open suitcase and showed viewers some of the possessions of a passenger killed in the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

In Sunday's live report, Colin Brazier picked through some of the items in the suitcase to point out some of the poignant reminders of the victims that remain at the scene days after Thursday's crash.

While still on the air, Brazier stopped looking through the bag and said he realized it wasn't appropriate.

"We shouldn't really be doing this, I suppose," he said.

Sky News and Brazier later apologized "profusely" for the incident.

"Today while presenting from the site of the MH17 air crash Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims' bags. Colin immediately recognized that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologize profusely for any offense caused," the network said in a written statement.

But without an internationally recognized investigative team on the ground, there seem to be many questions about what to do with victims' personal belongings.

BBC correspondent Natalia Antelava was reporting from the site in rebel-held territory when one of the volunteers who have been searching the area approached her and handed her travel documents and a wallet. The man asked what he should do with them.

"Oh God, this is pretty awful," a visibly moved Antelava said. She said the documents and the wallet, with credit cards still inside, belonged to a Dutch national.

The man asked her if she could turn them over to the proper authorities and she said she would. Antelava said he was the second man who had approached her with such a request.

The Ukrainian government has accused pro-Russian rebels of looting jewelry and other valuables from the victims. There have also been reports that victims' bank cards have been stolen and used.

Local rebel leader Alexander Borodai has denied allegations of looting.

Most of the 298 people killed aboard Flight 17 were Dutch, and the Dutch Banking Association said it was freezing bank and credit cards belonging to victims.

"International media report that victims' bank cards have been stolen," the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. "Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary."

The association said relatives of the victims would be repaid for any losses.

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