Two more planes arrive with MH17 bodies

Two more planes arrive with MH17  bodies
Picture: AP Photo/Phil Nijhuis

Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster have arrived in the Netherlands, while Australian and Dutch diplomats promoted a plan for a UN team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – most of them Dutch citizens - were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17. US officials say the Boeing 777 was probably shot down by a missile from territory held by pro-Russian rebels, likely by accident.

Australian PM Tony Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multinational force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster.

To that end, Mr Abbott said he had dispatched 50 police officers to London to be ready to join any organisation which may result.

Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop was travelling with her Dutch counterpart Frans Timmermans to Kiev to seek an agreement with the Ukraine government to allow international police to secure the wreckage, Mr Abbott said.

Details including which countries would contribute and whether officers would be armed and protected by international troops were yet to be agreed, Mr Abbott said.

On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Australia demanding that rebels cooperate with an independent investigation and allow all remaining bodies to be recovered.

The first bodies arrived in the Netherlands yesterday and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and hundreds of relatives. The two planes today brought a total of 74 more coffins back to the Netherlands, said government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking.

The Dutch investigators gave permission for what it called “local parties” to move wreckage at the site in order to recover remaining victims. Conditions at the site, spread across farm fields in open countryside, have made recovery and investigation a slow and sometimes chaotic process, with rebel gunmen controlling the area and at times hindering access.

Patricia Zorko, head of the National Police Unit that includes the Dutch national forensic team, said some 200 experts, including 80 from overseas, were working at a military barracks on the outskirts of the central city of Hilversum to identify the dead. Around the world some 1,000 people are involved in the process, which also includes gathering information from next of kin.

Staff will “examine the bodies, describe the bodies, take dental information, DNA and put all the information together in the computer and compare this information with the information they gathered from the families in the last days,” police spokesman Ed Kraszewski said. “Then we have to see if there is a match.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has accused Russia of firing artillery to hit Ukrainian military sites and planning to send pro-Russian separatists more lethal weaponry.

The State Department said the US has evidence that Russia is shelling Ukraine from sites inside Russia. Spokeswoman Marie Harf also said the US has evidence Russia intends to deliver “heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers” to separatists battling Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.

Ms Harf declined to provide details or elaborate on the evidence because she said she could not get into intelligence “source and methods”.

The US has repeatedly accused Russia of stoking the Ukraine rebellion and alleges that Russia is ultimately responsible for last week’s downing of the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine.

More on this topic

MH17 victims mourned in AmsterdamMH17 victims mourned in Amsterdam

Authorities identify 127 Ukraine plane disaster victimsAuthorities identify 127 Ukraine plane disaster victims

Search for MH17 bodies called off as area deemed 'too dangerous'Search for MH17 bodies called off as area deemed 'too dangerous'

Investigators finally reach Ukraine plane crash siteInvestigators finally reach Ukraine plane crash site

More in this Section

British woman swept away by Storm Dennis floodwater is found deadBritish woman swept away by Storm Dennis floodwater is found dead

Assad predicts total victory after gains in northern SyriaAssad predicts total victory after gains in northern Syria

Leaked data shows China’s Uighurs detained due to religionLeaked data shows China’s Uighurs detained due to religion

Extinction Rebellion digs up Cambridge college lawn in environmental protestExtinction Rebellion digs up Cambridge college lawn in environmental protest


Lifestyle

Des O'Sullivan takes a look at Bill Wyman's Rolling Stones memorabiliaRolling Stones memorabilia going under the hammer

Steve Coogan’s latest film pokes fun at retail billionaires who’ve made their money from our desire for low-priced clothes, writes Laura Harding.Steve Coogan: selling a story of Greed

Katie Wright recaps all the top stories from the UK’s fashion capital.London Fashion Week: Everything you might have missed from the autumn/winter shows

I might have just stumbled on the key to child discipline — a calendar, an aquarium and a big lie.Learner Dad: 'We’re big into Cancel Discipline in our place'

More From The Irish Examiner