AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Dutch foreign minister said a passenger aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 had time to install an oxygen mask before the plane crashed.
The comment by Frans Timmermans, interviewed Wednesday on a Dutch television talk show, indicated some passengers aboard the plane remained conscious after it was evidently struck by a surface-to-air missile, and contradicts some findings that all aboard died instantly.
"No, they did not see the missile coming, but you know that someone was found with an oxygen mask over their mouth? That means someone had the time to do that. We cannot rule that out," he said. The plane, a Boeing 777-200 was shot down in July over an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. All 298 people aboard the plane, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, died.
His comments came after the show's host, Jeroen Pauw, expressed surprise at Timmermans' speech before the United Nations Security Council the week after the crash, in which Timmermans reportedly said, "I've been thinking how horrible the final moments of their lives must have been, when they knew the plane was going down. Did they lock hands with their loved ones, did they hold their children close to their hearts, did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know."
Timmermans' information will likely not change the current investigation of the incident, but could offer investigators an insight of the plane's final moments before it broke apart and crashed.