• Sunday, October 26, 2014

MH17 crash: More bodies transferred to Netherlands

BBC Online
 An Australian Air Force plane was one of two aircrafts transporting 74 coffins to the Netherlands on Thursday, JUly 24, 2014. Photo taken from BBC
An Australian Air Force plane was one of two aircrafts transporting 74 coffins to the Netherlands on Thursday, July 24, 2014. Photo taken from BBC

Two transport planes carrying bodies and remains of those killed on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have landed in the Netherlands.

The planes transported 51 bags containing bodies or body parts from Ukraine on Thursday, officials say.
The Netherlands received 40 bodies on Wednesday, and has now begun the long process of identifying remains.

Pro-Russian rebels have been widely accused of shooting down the plane, killing all 298 people on board.

The post-crash operation has become a multinational effort: the Dutch are leading the investigation, UK experts are examining data from the two flight recorders, and Australia has offered police help to secure the crash site.

RESIGNATION

In Brussels EU diplomats are due to discuss new sanctions against Russia.

Sanctions could include a ban on buying debt or stock issued by Russia's largest banks, according to reports.

Separately on Thursday, Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned in protest at the earlier disbanding of the ruling parliamentary coalition, as well as what he called "the blocking of government initiatives".

It is not clear whether the resignation will be accepted by President Poroshenko, says the BBC's Olexiy Solohubenko, with the possibility of Yatsenyuk continuing in his post until a new cabinet is appointed within 60 days.

In eastern Ukraine, the political leader of the rebels in the Donetsk area has admitted receiving support from "the whole Russian people" in their fight against the government in Kiev.

However, in a BBC interview, Alexander Borodai - who is himself Russian - denied being a member of the Russian security services.

NATIONAL SADNESS

The first 40 bodies arrived on Wednesday in the Netherlands, which lost 193 of its citizens in the MH17 disaster.

Two more transport aircraft landed on Thursday, and were met by a band playing the Last Post, followed by a minute's silence.

The process of identifying the dead was due to get under way on Thursday at a barracks south of the city of Hilversum.

A team of Dutch forensic scientists working inside a military base will examine the contents of the coffins, says the BBC's Anna Holligan in Eindhoven.

But there remains a discrepancy in the numbers of bodies counted by observers on the ground, and experts warn it could be months before all victims are identified.

Australia has sent 50 officers to London to be on standby for deployment to secure the crash site, PM Tony Abbot said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has gone with her Dutch counterpart to Ukraine to discuss the issue with authorities in Kiev.

Meanwhile, UK air accident investigators working with Dutch aviation officials have started to analyse information from the "black box" recorders at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough.

Data was successfully downloaded and verified on Wednesday, Dutch officials said.

They are looking for voice recordings of the last moments of the plane's flight, as well as potentially vital information from after any missile strike, which could yield clues about the impact and effect of the strike.

The US has confirmed that it believes the plane was struck by an SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine - probably by mistake.

In a frank interview on Wednesday, a leading rebel commander in eastern Ukraine, said he knew a battalion linked to the city of Luhansk did have a Buk launcher at the time of the MH17 crash.

"That Buk I know about. I heard about it. I think they [local rebels] sent it back," Alexander Khodakovsky told Reuters news agency.

"They probably sent it back in order to remove proof of its presence," he said.
His comments contradicted a statement by Alexander Borodai, who used his BBC interview to deny the rebels had the weapon.

Meanwhile, CNN has announced that one of its Ukrainian freelance journalists, Anton Skiba, was abducted by armed pro-Russia separatists in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Tuesday.

CNN said efforts to secure Skiba's release had failed, so it was publicly appealing for his release.

The news comes after fighting between Ukrainian government forces and rebels around Donetsk on Wednesday reportedly left 16 people dead.
Officials in Kiev said the rebels also shot down two Ukrainian military aircraft on Wednesday.

A statement from overall military commander Igor Strelkov posted on a rebel website said he had withdrawn his fighters from the outskirts of Donetsk.

He said they were prepared to defend their positions.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Published: 10:11 pm Thursday, July 24, 2014

Last modified: 10:21 pm Thursday, July 24, 2014

TAGS: Netherlands Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 east Ukraine

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