(CNN) – Some of the most heartbreaking images to emerge from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash scene have been those of passengers’ belongings.
A guide book, a stuffed toy monkey, a passport – items that remind us that those traveling on the Boeing 777 were, in many ways, just like us.
Which is why many Sky News viewers watching the network’s live broadcast Sunday were shocked to see a reporter begin picking through the contents of an open suitcase lying among debris in the east Ukrainian field where the passenger plane went down.
Immediately realizing his error while on air, correspondent Colin Brazier said, “We shouldn’t really be doing this, I suppose.”
But the damage had already been done. A flurry of messages posted to social media decried the segment as “sickening” and “disrespectful.”
Both Brazier and Sky News have apologized “profusely” for any offense caused, in a statement released by the network.
Meanwhile, anger over the handling of the crash site in the rebel-controlled area of eastern Ukraine is growing amid allegations of looting, tampering with evidence and investigators being stopped from examining the wreckage.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described reports of “drunken separatists piling the remains of people into trucks in an unceremonious fashion.”
The rebel’s local leader, Alexander Borodai, has refuted accusations that his forces removed the bodies and denied responsibility for reports of stolen bank cards that were taken from the crash victims being used.
Borodai said he could not rule out the possibility that “some local residents could have searched the bodies.”