On July 17, 2014, a Malaysian airlines flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The Boeing 777 had chosen to take a flight route through the conflict-heavy region of Eastern Ukraine. Although there had been warnings made by several international aviation agencies, the flight space had not been closed outright. While some airlines had begun to avoid the airspace, many other airlines continued to fly through, with caution.

But as the MH17 flight passed near Donetsk, it lost contact with Ukrainian aircraft control. The 283 passengers and 15 crew members would never be heard from again. 90 minutes after the incident, Ukraine decided to shut down all activity in Eastern Ukrainian airspace. MH17, and everyone inside, was gone.

Although the cause of the explosion remains contested, there seems to be conclusive evidence that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile fired by Russian separatists who occupy the still-contested region. Because of the altitude at which the plane was shot (some 10,000 meters), the debris spread over an area of 34 square kilometers.

The flight officially crashed in the settlement of Grabovo, some 100 km from the city of Donetsk, but scattered remains were found in all manner of places. Bodies fell into houses, airplane chairs were found in crop fields, pieces of the plane turned up in locals' gardens. In some cases, as the debris burned, the bones of the bodies were the only things that remained.

To date, 295 of the 298 victims have been found and identified, after an extensive international search. But these photos focus on the confusion, chaos and stunned disbelief that occurred in the 48 hours immediately after the disaster.

—Alexander Strecker


Editors' Note: Don't miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2014. In total, you'll find 31 visually delightful works from across the world.

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