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The refrigerated train carrying the remains of those killed aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has reached the government-controlled city of Kharkiv, finishing the first part of a journey out of the conflict zone where they have been stuck for days.(Photo: Getty Images)

Bodies of Malaysia Airlines crash victims bound for Netherlands

The first bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 will be flown to the Netherlands Wednesday for formal identification and forensic examination, six days after the Boeing 777 fell out of the sky and into a field in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.

Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told the Associated Press that a ceremony had been set for 11 a.m. local time (4 a.m. Eastern Time) at the airport in Kharkiv. Jan Tuinder, the Dutch official in charge of the international team dealing with the dead, said that at least 200 bodies were aboard the train and that more remains could be found once the body bags are examined fully.

Dutch government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking said about 60 coffins were expected to arrive in the city of Eindhoven Wednesday afternoon on two military transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian. Hundreds of relatives were expected to travel to Eindhoven air base where Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte will wait for the flights.

The bodies are scheduled to be taken to a military barracks in the city for identification, a process that Rutte has said could take months.

The Dutch government has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning. Of the 298 victims of the plane crash, 193 were from the Netherlands.

Two KLM cabin crew reach out into a sea of flowers at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. AP Photo/Mike Corder

Two KLM cabin crew reach out into a sea of flowers at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. AP Photo/Mike Corder

Before departing on a trip to the West Coast Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed a condolence book at the Dutch Embassy in Washington.

On Tuesday, the U.S. intelligence officials said that evidence suggested that the plane was mistakenly shot down by pro-Russian rebels using an SA-11 surface-to-air missile. The officials stopped short of directly linking Moscow to the crash, but said that Russia had created the “conditions” for the tragedy.

The officials based their assessment on intercepted communications, satellite photos and social media postings, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

But the officials said they did not know who fired the missile or whether any Russian operatives were present at the launch.

In terms of who fired the missile, “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” one official said, adding at another point, “There is not going to be a Perry Mason moment here.”

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