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More Bodies Returned To Netherlands


Bodies Of MH17 Victims Depart Kharkiv
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WATCH: At a ceremony at Kharkiv's airport, Ukrainian soldiers load coffins with the remains of those who died in the MH17 crash before it took off for the Netherlands. (Reuters)

Two transport planes carrying the remains of victims of the downed Malaysian airliner have arrived in the Netherlands from Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials said the planes on July 24 were carrying 51 caskets holding bodies or body parts.

The first two military planes carrying the remains of 40 crash victims landed on July 23 in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven.

They were met by some 1,000 relatives of the victims, Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and representatives of the other nations that lost citizens on the flight.

Flags of the 11 countries that lost citizens in the crash flew at half-staff at the airport, and a minute's silence was observed across the country.

The bodies were driven in 40 identical hearses to the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts were waiting at a military barracks to carry out the task of identifying the remains.

Netherlands held a day of mourning on July 24 for the victims, 193 of whom were Dutch. Flags flew at half-staff on Dutch government buildings and family homes around the nation of 17 million.

Motorways along the 100-kilometer route were closed for the long convoy to pass, with crowds gathering on bridges overhead to throw flowers at the hearses.

Some 74 more bodies are due to arrive in the Netherlands on July 24.

All 298 passengers and crew were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed on July 17.

Dutch officials have said a refrigerated train brought some 200 bodies to Kharkiv on July 22 after the separatists allowed them to be transported to the government-controlled city.

Rebel leader Aleksandr Borodai, in an interview with the BBC, denied that his group had neglected the bodies of the crash victims.

British Investigators

Borodai said on July 23 that he had wanted to remove the bodies immediately but was told to leave them in order to allow an investigation by international monitors.

The British government confimed the plane's two flight-data recorders have been delivered to British investigators for expert analysis.

The separatists handed over the black-box recorders after stalling for days.

Dutch investigators said on July 23 they have no evidence the airliner's black box voice recorder had been tampered with.

The Dutch Safety Board said the voice recorder "was damaged but the part that contains the data was intact," and that there was not "any evidence or indication" that it had been manipulated.

International investigators have accused the separatists of tampering with the evidence.

Reports said some parts of the plane have been moved with heavy equipment and other parts have been cut into pieces.

U.S. officials on July 22 said the Malaysian jet was likely downed by the separatists "by mistake."

The officials said no direct link to Russia has been found.

The officials said the plane was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile fire by the rebels.

While saying there was so far no link to the Kremlin, the officials said Russia had "created the conditions" for the downing of the plane.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's military said two Ukrainian warplanes were shot down on July 23, just 35 kilometers from the Malaysian plane crash site. The military said the two war planes had been hit by missiles fired from the territory of Russia.

State Department Deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that, if true, the report "would only be further evidence that Russian-backed separatists are using advanced surface-to-air weaponry" provided by Moscow.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and BBC
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