Bodies of the dead from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane have arrived in Holland to be received by a nation in mourning.
Two transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian, flew in to Holland’s Eindhoven airport from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv carrying 40 coffins.
They touched down to the sound of tolling bells just before 3pm UK time and were greeted by Dutch king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima as well as by Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.
Relatives of the 298 people, including 10 Britons, who died aboard flight MH17 were also at Eindhoven.
Waiting at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was Barry Sweeney, father of Newcastle United football fan Liam Sweeney, who was on board MH17 on his way to see his team play in a pre-season friendly in New Zealand.
He told ITV News that the grieving families “need closure” through the return of the victims’ bodies and their burials. He also spoke about how it feels to walk in his son’s footsteps, making the same journey to Amsterdam just six days after his son.
To mark the arrival of the bodies in Holland the Union flag and Dutch flag were being flown at half-mast over Downing Street in London.
It is the Netherlands that has bore the brunt of the tragedy, with 193 Dutch lives lost, including many children.
Even as the planes were flying to Eindhoven, news came through of further violence in the Ukraine, with reports that two Ukrainian military fighter jets had been shot down about 20 miles south of the MH17 crash site.