News World Planes with MH17 bodies arrive

Planes with MH17 bodies arrive

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The first 40 bodies of victims from MH17 have touched down at Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands.

The Dutch C130 Hercules touched down at 3.47pm local time (11.47pm AEST) with the first 16 bodies and an Australian RAAF C17 transporter landed minutes later with another 24 to complete the initial convoy of bodies transported from Kharkiv airport in the Ukraine to Eindhoven.

Approximately 1000 relatives and friends of the victims are on hand as well as dignitaries, including the Dutch king and queen and Australia’s representatives, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

They are there for a solemn ceremony to honour the 298 people killed almost a week ago when Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was downed over rebel-controlled territory in the Ukraine.

When both planes land in a v-shape, a last post will be played, followed by a minute’s silence.

Families and friends will then be able to witness the process of bodies being removed off the plane and loaded by military personnel into individual hearses.

Twenty hearses will pull up in between the two planes and the first 10 bodies from each plane will be loaded.

The process will be repeated until all bodies are on board a hearse driven by a military member.

The cars will then be conveyed north to Hilversum, Netherlands – an hour and a half’s drive away – where the extensive forensic process of identifying bodies can begin.

It’s a national day of mourning in Holland, with flags flying at half mast for the nearly 200 Dutch victims.

Dozens of Australian citizens and residents were among the dead.

Family and relatives will be stationed close to the dignitaries but largely out of view of the world’s media.

A specialist team will begin identifying the bodies on Thursday, a process which could take months but Dutch authorities say it will be conducted as speedily as possible.

The two military planes will transport all the bodies in a shuttle convoy from the Ukraine to the Netherlands.

Sir Cosgrove and Ms Bishop will address media in Eindhoven following the ceremony.