The bodies of some of the first victims recovered from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have returned 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. They have now arrived at Eindhoven Airport in the Netherlands where they were met by relatives, the 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.
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.
Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott
A national day of mourning has been declared in the Netherlands for the 298 people killed, 193 of whom were Dutch, and will include a silent march in Amsterdam this evening. A minute’s silence will be held before a motorcade takes the bodies to the Korporaal van Oudheusden military barracks in Hilversum, where the long process of identifying the remains, aided by a team of British police officers, begins. The Dutch PM has warned it could take weeks or even months. The bodies are the first of some 200 victims which are expected to be flown out of Ukraine during the course of this week.