Flight MH17: Bodies missing as repatriation begins

A train carrying victims of flight MH17 in Ukraine

First victims of flight MH17 will be flown home today, but Dutch officials say 82 bodies are missing

LAST UPDATED AT 09:17 ON Wed 23 Jul 2014

The first bodies from downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are due to be flown back to the Netherland later today, the BBC reports.

But Dutch officials say only 200 of the 282 recovered bodies arrived by train in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Tuesday night. Interpol has begun the preliminary identification process after they arrived from Donetsk.

Some of those bodies will be flown back to Eindhoven, where the plane will be met by Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, and members of the royal family. They will then be taken to Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks for further identification.

Rutte warned families that while the identification process might be quick in some cases, other cases could take "weeks or even months".

A day of national mourning is being held in the Netherlands for the 193 Dutch victims who died in the crash.

Meanwhile, declassified US intelligence documents have revealed that officials believe Russia "created the conditions" that resulted in the downing of the Malaysian airliner, but found no direct link to Moscow.

They instead suggested that the Russian separatists in Donetsk shot down the plane "by mistake", The Guardian reports.

The black boxes, handed over to Dutch authorities by Malaysian officials, have now been sent to Farnborough where they will be analysed by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, according to the BBC.

"They're confident that, depending on the level of damage, they will be able to retrieve the information within 24 hours," a spokesperson for the Department of Transport told the Guardian.

 

Flight MH17: bodies and black boxes handed over by rebels 

22 July

Four days after flight MH17 was downed in eastern Ukraine, almost all of the passengers' bodies have been sent on a slow journey to the Netherlands to be identified by forensic experts.

Senior rebel leaders finally agreed to hand over the bodies and the plane's black boxes, and allow international investigators access to the crash site.

A freight train carrying 282 passengers is on its way to Kharkiv, a city controlled by the Ukrainian government. The bodies will then be prepared for transfer by air to the Netherlands. The remains of 16 people are still believed to be missing.

Although the bodies were placed in a refrigerator train, the Dutch victim identification team was told that the refrigeration units had broken down during a power cut on Sunday, reports The Times.

"Investigators wore face masks and bowed their heads before entering the trucks, which emitted an overwhelming stench," says the newspaper.

The train later arrived in Donetsk but was temporarily held up in the wake of heavy fighting around the city's railway station.

The black boxes have been handed over to Malaysian officials, who said the recorders were "in good condition". Experts hope they will reveal the exact time of the incident, the altitude of the plane and its precise position, as well as recordings from the cockpit.

Families of British victims have been urgently cancelling credit cards and mobile phone accounts amid claims that the bodies were "looted", the Daily Telegraph reported last night. Witnesses claimed separatists had been pocketing valuables and electronic equipment from the site.

Rebel commander Alexander Borodai admitted that items might have been stolen and promised to punish the offenders. "Sons of bitches can be found everywhere," he told reporters. "We are now investigating. Those who are guilty would be severely punished."

According to The Guardian, Malaysia Airlines is facing further criticism after it emerged that in diverting its planes away from Ukraine, it had sent at least one flight over another conflict zone: Syria. · 

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