News / Europe

Malaysian Plane Victims to Be Moved to Netherlands

  • A guard rides on a train carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine as it arrives in the city of Kharkiv, under Kyiv's control, July 22, 2014.
  • Police officers secure a refrigerated train loaded with bodies of the passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 as it arrives at a Kharkiv factory for a stop, July 22, 2014.
  • An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard as OSCE monitors and a team of Malaysian air crash investigators inspect the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near Hrabove, Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
  • A Malaysian air crash investigator inspects the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Ukraine, July 22, 2014.
  • Two KLM cabin crew reach out into a sea of flowers at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, July 22, 2014.
  • Emergency workers carry a victim's body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 21, 2014.
  • Malaysian diplomats stand as Ukrainian President Petro Porosheko expresses his condolences outside the Malaysian Embassy in Kyiv, July 21, 2014.
  • A paramedic walks in charred debris at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 20, 2014.
  • Toys and flowers are placed on the charred fuselage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, July 20, 2014.
  • A girl holding a candle squats next to candles forming MH17 during an event to mourn the victims of the crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 20, 2014.
  • Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry gather the remains of victims at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 20, 2014.
  • Armed pro-Russian separatists stand guard at a crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 20, 2014.
  • A resident stands near flowers and mementos placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the settlement of Rozspyne in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, July 19, 2014.
Al Pessin

Ukrainian officials say the search for bodies has ended at the site where a Malaysia Airlines plane came down, and all the bodies, or fragments of them, have been found. The officials say there is agreement with Russian-backed rebels who control the area to move the bodies by rail from the rebel-held city of Torez to government-controlled Kharkiv Monday night, where they will then be flown to Amsterdam for identification. 

Black boxes 

A senior separatist leader, Aleksander Borodai, handed over two black boxes from the downed airliner downed to Malaysian experts in the city of Donetsk in the early hours of Tuesday.

“Here they are, the black boxes,” Borodai told a room packed with journalists at the headquarters of his self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic as an armed rebel placed the boxes on a desk.

Both sides then signed a document, which Borodai said was a protocol to finalize the procedure after lengthy talks with the Malaysians.

“I can see that the black boxes are intact, although a bit damaged. In good condition,” Colonel Mohamed Sakri of Malaysian National Security Council said in extending his thanks to “His Excellency Mr. Borodai” for passing on the recorders.


Approximate Crash SiteApproximate Crash Site
Approximate Crash Site
Approximate Crash Site


The head of the Ukrainian investigation commission, Deputy Prime Minister Volodimir Groysman, said 282 bodies have been recovered, along with fragments of 16 others. They were placed in refrigerated railroad cars in Torez during several days of negotiations about where they would be sent and when.

The breakthrough appears to be related to agreement that the bodies will be flown to Amsterdam and that Dutch experts, rather than Ukrainians, will lead the investigation. Three forensic investigators from the Netherlands finally reached the remote crash site on Monday, four days after the plane was allegedly shot down by separatist fighters. The investigators were allowed to see inside the rail cars and to look around several areas where pieces of the plane came down.

They are working with a human rights delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that diverted to the crash area last week and has been documenting the situation.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in an exclusive interview Monday with CNN, lamented the “men, women and children killed so senselessly.”

He said that, along with OSCE, Ukraine and other countries had sent monitors. “What they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site. … Every hour of postponing this date can make absolutely disastrous harm.”

“Our immediate focus is on recovering those who are lost,” Poroshenko added. “… We have to make sure the truth is out and that accountability exists.” 

Dutch team arrives

In a phone call with reporters in Kyiv, OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw said the experts briefly visited the rural station where the railroad cars were parked. The experts, carrying a flashlight, stepped into the three refrigerated cars containing body bags.

“They had a quick look around. And they said that they were more or less pleased with the way the body bags are stacked, and [with] the temperature under difficult conditions,” Bociurkiw said.

Bociurkiw said it took the investigators a day and a half by road to reach the area.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said three Australian diplomats and 28 investigators from four countries arrived in the government-controlled eastern city of Kharkiv Monday morning to receive the bodies and arrange their transport to Amsterdam. He said that would provide for “a more independent investigation.”

Yatsenyuk slams separatists, Russia

At a news conference, Yatsenyuk spoke angrily about the incident, describing the separatists as “drunks” and “bastards” and saying Russia is on the “dark side.”

“Together with the entire international community, we will bring to justice to everyone responsible, including the country which is behind the scene," he said.

Yatsenyuk said Russia is supplying, training and financing the separatists.

Some of the bodies and evidence were collected by locally based workers from the State Emergency Service, but other material, including the plane’s flight recorders, are believed to be in the hands of the separatists. Officials said the emergency workers are doing the best they can, but their activities are controlled by the separatists.

Deputy Prime Minister Groysman accused Russian operatives of tampering with evidence at the crash site. He also dismissed Russian claims that no missiles were fired in the area at the time the plane went down, and that a Ukrainian fighter jet may have been responsible.

He called on Russia to stop, saying “enough is enough,” but he said he does not expect Russia to cooperate now, after months of supporting the rebels and days of no help with the investigation.

Who shot plane down?

Malaysia Airlines flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur went down last Thursday with 298 people on board. Western intelligence agencies say the plane was almost certainly shot down by a Russian-made anti-aircraft missile fired from a mobile launcher parked in a rebel-controlled area. They say that their sensors detected a missile launch, and that three such systems were seen being driven back into Russia shortly after the attack.

Russia's military on Monday said it did not detect any missile launches in the area and alleged a Ukrainian fighter jet was flying "3-5 kilometers" from the Malaysian plane. Russia also denied supplying any weapons systems to the rebels.
Pro-Russian militants initially boasted online about shooting down a Ukrainian military transport plane last week, but then removed the post. And the Ukrainian government has published audio recordings it says are the voices of shocked rebels arriving on the scene and finding the remains of the civilian airliner and its passengers, and reporting the fact to Russian operatives.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: Luther from: India
July 21, 2014 10:36 AM
Those Russian Separatists and bloody Putin are in control of the crash site after killing of all those innocent people who have nothing to do with them. Why does the world just look at them like this. They must be brought to justices and held accountable for their blood. I urge the Ukraine Government to use all her full forces to destroy those murderers in the face of the earth.

by: Penny Burton from: USA
July 21, 2014 10:12 AM
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 21, 2014 11:36 AM
I agree with you.... The western news media keeps repeating the same repetitive rhetorical propaganda the US tells them.... and the western news media did the same when reporting the (weapons of mass destruction) that Iraq had, and are as guilty as those that lied about it, aren't they?

by: Michael from: Finland
July 21, 2014 7:43 AM
Those who were reluctant in Europe to impose severe sanctions on Russia now must rethink their stance over that,because they will lose much more... than just 3% of GDP cutting ties with Russia
In Response

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 21, 2014 3:21 PM
M - You are totally correct, but right from the start of the Ukrainian conflict, the invasion of Crimea, the Europeans could not be parted from their money and investments. For as long as Ukrainians were the casualties, most of the EU looked the other way quite smug; now we see that their lax in-moral attitude has their own innocent people dead, murdered in essence. I doubt anything or nor much will change.
The German chancellor, who leads the money/investment voices of appeasement, already has not indicated any desire to apply significant economic penalties.
The only ones that have shown a high moral road, from the start, are: the Pres.of the US, the Canadian PM, the Polish PM, the leaders of the Baltics, and even the PM of Britain has finally, probably reluctantly, stood up.
Those that opposed the US Pres, call forr strong economic measures, are in fact in part to blame; had significant economic sanctions been deployed, at the begining, probably all these disasters would have been avoided; the criminals may have been disuaded. Not a good situation for European stability and peace.

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