UK & World News

  • 24 July 2014, 3:33

MH17 Victims' Bodies Arrive In The Netherlands

The bodies of some of the first victims recovered from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have been brought to the Netherlands from the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

Two military aircraft - one Dutch and the other Australian -left Kharkiv Airport in northeastern Ukraine earlier carrying the bodies of 40 victims between them in wooden coffins.

The jets arrived atEindhoven airport in the Netherlands where they were met by relatives, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and members of the Dutch royal family.

Bells were sounded across the country and the Last Post played at the airport as an eerie silence fell across the airbase.

The coffins were carried off the planes by military personnel and each one put in a hearse.

Sky's Ian Woods, at the airport, said: "Around 1,000 relatives are watching from behind a screen, including members of two British families, even though they don't know if their loved ones are on board the planes."

A minute's silence was observed nationwide, and a motorcade took the bodies to theKorporaal Van Oudheusdenkazernemilitary barracks in Hilversum, where the long process of identifying the remains will begin using DNA, dental records and finger prints.

Jean Fransman, a spokesman for the ministry of security in the Netherlands, told Sky News: "We have chosen this location because these facilities have everything that's needed to carry out the identification process as quickly as possible with respect and discretion."

There was a national day of mourning in the Netherlands for the 298 people killed, including 193 Dutch, that also included a silent march in Amsterdam.

The Dutch Prime Minister has warned it could take weeks or even months to formally identify the victims before their bodies are released for repatriation.

A team of nine disaster victim identification (DVI) personnel from Britain, including six police officers, a crime scene manager and forensic photographer, will assist the Dutch authorities, which are leading the investigation.

The bodies are the first of some 200 victims which are expected to be flown out of Ukraine during the course of this week.

It is thought more than 80 bodies still remain at the scene.

However, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has cast doubt over the numbers that have been recovered and handed over by pro-Russian separatists, and warned it is unclear how many bodies may have arrived in Kharkivand been left behind.

"It's quite possible that many bodies are still out there in the open, in the European summer, subject to interference and subject to the ravages of heat and animals," he said.

Meanwhile, unverified video has emerged apparently showing the wreckage of two Ukrainian fighter jets which were reportedly shot down by separatists.

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