MH17 bodies to be flown to Netherlands
The first remains recovered from Malaysia Airlines MH17 plane that crashed in Ukraine last week are to be flown to the Netherlands for identification.
The Netherlands is holding a day of mourning for the 298 killed in the July 17 crash, 193 of whom were Dutch.
Meanwhile, US intelligence officials say pro-Russian rebels shot down the jet by mistake, but they have not found any direct link to Russia.
The plane crashed in a rebel-held area after apparently being hit by a rocket.
A refrigerated train carriage carrying about 200 bodies from the crash site arrived in the government-held city of Kharkiv on Tuesday.
About 50 coffins were laid out at the airport on Wednesday morning in preparation for the flight.
Investigators said they would continue to search the crash site for more bodies.
The first bodies from flight MH17 are due to arrive in Eindhoven at 16:00 local time after a farewell ceremony attended by Ukrainian officials in Kharkiv.
Members of the Dutch royal family and PM Mark Rutte will meet the plane.
The bodies are then due to be taken to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks for identification.
Mark Rutte said that process could take months.
In a separate process, the “black box” flight-data recorders from MH17 have been handed to Dutch authorities by Malaysian officials.
The devices will be sent to Farnborough in the UK for analysis.
In Washington, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence presented evidence they had gathered on the involvement of the rebels.
“It’s a solid case that it’s an SA-11 [missile] that was fired from eastern Ukraine under conditions the Russians helped create,” said the officials, who requested that their names not be reported.
They said the “most plausible explanation” for the shooting down of the plane was that rebels mistook it for another aircraft.
The evidence they presented included:
- Satellite images of a facility allegedly used to train rebels near the Russian city of Rostov
- Other images purportedly showing a surface-to-air missile launcher in the area
- Analysis of voice recordings of pro-Russian rebels apparently admitting bringing the airliner down
- Photos and messages from social-media sites pointing to rebel involvement
The US and other nations have accused rebels of blocking access to the crash site, putting valuable evidence at risk.
In Australia, former President Bill Clinton paid tribute to six HIV/Aids campaigners who were on board MH17.
Bill Clinton said their lives had been “overpowering in their contribution to a shared future”.
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