Almost a week after Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down from Ukraine skies at 33,000-feet, the first 40 bodies arrived in the Netherlands. The country bore the heaviest casualties at 193 of the 298 killed. The first Royal Dutch Air Force C130 plane landed in the city of Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, Wednesday, as the country marked a national day of mourning.
As the first coffin was lowered on the runway, there was an absolute silence at the Eindhoven military airport. Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, and other government officials joined about 1,000 relatives and friends of the victims, who gathered at the airport for a ceremony receiving the two military transport planes.
Obviously, the sight was so unbearable that Queen Maxima of the Netherlands broke down in tears. It was a stark contrast to the treatment of the victims’ remains in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels left corpses to decay in the summer heat in body bags dumped around the crash site, as if they were no difference from normal rubbish.dignity they deserve when Dutch military personnel solemnly and gently carried them to a row of identical hearses. This is perhaps the only moment where there were so many hearses it made you realize the scale of losses. They were then driven from the airport under military police escort to an army barracks 65 miles away. Once they reach Kaporaal van Oudheusden military barracks, a team of 150 experts will begin the painstaking task of identifying the remains. They include police officers, military personnel, forensic dentists and other medics, who have been tasked with collecting samples from close relatives around the country to help identify the 193 Dutch victims.
The information collected would then be handed to the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) which will use sophisticated software called Bonaparte to match those samples to the victims. The NFI took about 30-days to complete their task during an investigation into a 2010 plane crash in Libya, which killed 104 people. So, with close to 300 bodies to examine this time, it could roughly take 3-months, if lucky.
This is the first time the Dutch government had declared a day of national mourning, since the death of Queen Wilhelmina in 1962. At about 4.07 pm, a minute of silence was observed across the country. Some have described this as the “Holland’s 9/11”, as the losses of 193 lives were considered massive since the country has only 16 million people. Nevertheless, the aftermath of the incident is a long process, and this is only the beginning.
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