MH17 bodies still en route to Holland

Posted on

Dutch authorities expect the last of the bodies that were removed from the MH17 crash site this week to be transferred to the Netherlands on the weekend.


The final flight is expected to depart from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv for Eindhoven on Saturday.

“Today (Friday) again 74 coffins went to the Netherlands,” Dutch forensic team spokeswoman Esther Naber told AAP.

“The work is finished today, definitely, but there is one or two more flights tomorrow.”

The Dutch believe at least 200 bodies were on the refrigerated train out of Torez.

There’s no doubt, however, that some remains are still at the crash site, with experts making new discoveries on Thursday and Friday.

The deceased are being transferred from Ukraine’s second-biggest city to Eindhoven on a Dutch C130 Hercules and an Australian C17 transporter.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Friday visited Kharkiv to see how the work was progressing and to thank those involved.

She was accompanied by her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, before both flew on to the Netherlands.

Patricia Zorko, head of the National Police Unit that includes the Dutch national forensic team, said about 200 experts, including 80 from overseas, were working in Hilversum, in the Netherlands, at a military barracks to identify the dead.

Around the world, 1000 people are involved in the process, which also includes gathering information from next of kin.

Staff will “examine the bodies, describe the bodies, take dental information, DNA and put all the information together in the computer, and compare this information with the information they gathered from the families in the last days”, police spokesman Ed Kraszewski said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

“Then we have to see if there is a match.”

There are three scientific methods of identifying bodies – dental records, fingerprints and DNA.

After the experts believe they have positively identified a body, they defend their findings to an international panel.

If both agree, the positive identification will be sent to a Dutch prosecutor’s office, which has the power to release the body to the next of kin.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday gave an indication of just how long the identification process could take.

“After the Bali bombing it was, I think, almost three weeks before the first victim came back,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“And I think it was more than four months before the last one came back.”