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Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines left eastern Ukraine Wednesday

First Group Of MH17 Bodies Arrives In Netherlands

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) -- Two military aircraft carrying the first bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines crash left the embattled plains of eastern Ukraine Wednesday, bringing some consolation to grieving relatives who still must wait for positive identifications and answers about who caused the disaster.

The Dutch government declared a day of national mourning as the country prepared for the arrival of the first bodies in the afternoon. The crash on Thursday killed all 298 people - most of them Dutch citizens - aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Ukraine and western nations are pressing the pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site to allow an unfettered an investigation, something Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would use his influence to achieve. Though confident that a missile brought down the aircraft, U.S. officials say Russia's role remains unclear.

Two military transport planes, one Dutch and one Australian, departed at midday, heading for Eindhoven air base, to be met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and hundreds of relatives.

For one grieving mother, the arrival of the bodies marked a new stage of mourning and brought to an end the pain of seeing television images of victims lying in the undulating fields or in body bags being loaded into a train.

"If I have to wait five months for identification, I can do it," Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son, Bryce, and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died in the crash, said before setting off for Eindhoven. "Waiting while the bodies were in the field and in the train was a nightmare."

Dutch government spokesman Lodewijk Hekking said about 60 coffins were expected, but the number wasn't immediately confirmed.

There was confusion as well about how many of the 282 corpses which the rebels said they have found were on the train which arrived in Kharkiv, a government-controlled city, on Tuesday.

Jan Tuinder, the Dutch official in charge of the international team dealing with the dead, said that at least 200 bodies were aboard the train and that more remains could be found once the body bags are examined fully.

Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said Wednesday that Dutch authorities had delivered the plane's two "black boxes" to the agency's base at Farnborough, southern England, where information from the data and voice recorders will be downloaded.

The Dutch Safety Board announced that it will lead an international team of 24 investigators, and said unhindered access to the crash site is critical.

"At the moment, there are no guarantees for the investigators' safety" at the scene, the board said, adding that it "and other parties" are working to get access to the site and to secure it.

Wreckage of the Boeing 777 fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kiev government since April. U.S. officials say the plane was probably shot down by a missile, most likely by accident.

The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions against more Russian individuals but refrained from targeting entire sectors of the Russian economy while waiting for clearer evidence of Moscow's role in the disaster.

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for "creating the conditions" that led crash, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement.

The officials, who briefed reporters Tuesday under ground rules that their names not be used, said the plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. The officials cited intercepts, satellite photos and social media postings by separatists, some of which have been authenticated by U.S. experts.

The intelligence officials were cautious in their assessment, noting that while the Russians have been arming separatists in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.


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Drillsgt1843 July 23 2014 at 8:42 AM

So sad...it's incomprehensible man's inhumanity toward his own species. Rest in peace to all lost in the crash.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
3 replies
bphylmel July 23 2014 at 8:43 AM

At last these victim's bodies are being treated with dignity. Hope they find the other 100 victims soon.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
phpoling July 23 2014 at 8:23 AM

May 300 Passengers rest in peace

Flag Reply +11 rate up
debnaert July 23 2014 at 9:22 AM

Ukrainian soldiers SHOWED these poor souls some dignity UNLIKE the russian militants!

Flag Reply +11 rate up
4 replies
redletter2008 July 23 2014 at 9:31 AM

My deepest sympathies to the Dutch for their senseless and enormous loss. Same for the other victims of this heinous crime.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
debnaert July 23 2014 at 9:27 AM

Putin is WORTH 60 BILLION DOLLARS! Only a dictator can mass that kind of worth... and we all know HOW he did it! He is a CROOK and a CRIMINAL! It's hard for me to imagine HOW the Russians can vote for this dictator or DIDTHEY?

Flag Reply +7 rate up
4 replies
makaita July 23 2014 at 9:43 AM

I find all of this horrific. Just know if you are a passenger and this happens to you or your loved ones, your Governments will NOT seek justice for you. It's all about the money.

May God grant peace to those souls and to their families.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
lmao4891 July 23 2014 at 9:14 AM

Surprised Owhammy's not heading to Eindhoven for a photo op and fund raiser. He must not have enough supports in Europe to fill a hall.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
13 replies
SRJimVal2 July 23 2014 at 9:37 AM

Well I hope the big bad guys who blew innocent people out of the sky, feel real good about themselves, then they get punished in kind on earth

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
Welcome Justin SRJimVal2 July 23 2014 at 10:50 AM

We can only hope. But with the Obama administration and EU supporting them, no accountability will be had at all.

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mofman July 23 2014 at 8:46 AM

Another coverup, no direct evidence the missle came from Russia, who is fuling the separitives movement. Donesk is a coal miners town, not a wepons manufacuring town. There could be no doubt where the missel came from.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
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