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Malaysia Airlines plane crash: Victims' bodies arrive in Netherlands

Two military transport planes carrying the bodies of some victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash arrived Wednesday in the Netherlands.
Two military transport planes carrying the bodies of some victims of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash arrived Wednesday in the Netherlands.

The planes landed in the southern city of Eindhoven and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other government officials. The coffins were carried slowly from the planes to a fleet of waiting hearses.

From the airport, they were to be driven under military police escort to the central city of Hilversum, where forensic experts were waiting at a military barracks to carry out the painstaking task of identifying the remains. Officials say many bodies could be identified quickly and returned to their loved ones, but some families may have to wait weeks for a positive identification.

Flight 17 was shot down over the battlefields of eastern Ukraine last week. The Netherlands was the country that bore the heaviest toll in the crash that killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Ukraine and Western nations are urging pro-Russian rebels who control the crash site to allow an unfettered investigation.

The U.S. says it has no evidence of direct Russian involvement but blamed Russian support for the separatists' actions.

"What needs to happen is Russia needs to stop sending weapons and fighters across the border," said Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

The plane's flight and data recorders have arrived in England for analysis but the most crucial evidence still lies largely unguarded in the Ukrainian fields under the control of rebels. International monitors say parts of the debris were cut open and moved.

British officials told the BBC they have evidence the rebels considered moving the bodies or planting parts from other planes amid the wreckage in an effort to confuse investigators.

Meantime, fighting flared in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday. Pro-Russian rebels shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets 20 miles south of the MH17 crash site.

The separatist Donetsk People's Republic said in a statement on its website that one of the pilots was killed and another was being sought by rebel fighters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
news plane crash u.s. & world ukraine russia
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