More MH17 Bodies To Leave Ukraine For Netherlands

444Two transport planes carry-ing bodies and remains of those killed on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have left Ukraine for the Netherlands.

Fifty one bags containing bodies or body parts were loaded on board the planes on Thursday, Ukraine said.

The Netherlands received 40 bodies on Wednesday, and has now begun the long process of identifying remains.

Pro-Russian rebels have been widely accused of shooting down the plane, killing all 298 people on board.

The post-crash operation has become a multinational effort: the Dutch are leading the investigation, UK experts are examining data from the two flight recorders, and Australia has offered police help to secure the crash site.

In Brussels EU diplomats are due to discuss new sanctions against Russia.

Sanctions could include a ban on buying debt or stock issued by Russia’s largest banks, according to reports.

In eastern Ukraine, the political leader of the rebels in the Donetsk area has admitted receiving support from “the whole Russian people” in their fight against the government in Kiev.

However, in a BBC interview, Alexander Borodai — who is himself Russian – denied being a member of the Russian security services.

The first 40 bodies arrived on Wednesday in the Netherlands, which lost 193 of its citizens in the MH17 disaster.

The process of identifying the dead was due to get under way on Thursday at a barracks south of the city of Hilversum.

A team of Dutch forensic scientists working inside a military base will examine the contents of the coffins, says the BBC‘s Anna Holligan in Eindhoven.

Two more transport aircraft will land in the afternoon. They will be met by a band playing the Last Post, followed by a minute’s silence.

But there remains a discrepancy in the numbers of bodies counted by observers on the ground, and experts warn it could be months before all victims are identified. — BBC

Australia has sent 50 officers to London to be on standby for deployment to secure the crash site, PM Tony Abbot said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has gone with her Dutch counterpart to Ukraine to discuss the issue with authorities in Kiev.

Meanwhile, UK experts working with Dutch aviation officials are beginning the process of looking at the “black box” recorders at the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough.

Data was successfully downloaded and verified on Wednesday, Dutch officials said. UK air accident investigators will now analyse the information.

They are looking for voice recordings of the last moments of the plane’s flight, as well as potentially vital information from after any missile strike, which could yield clues about the impact and effect of the strike.

The US has confirmed that it believes the plane was struck by an SA-11 Buk surface-to-air missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine – probably by mistake.

Meanwhile, fighting between Ukrainian government forces and rebels around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Wednesday reportedly left 16 people dead.

Officials in Kiev said the rebels also shot down two Ukrainian military aircraft on Wednesday.

A statement from overall military commander Igor Strelkov posted on a rebel website said he had withdrawn his fighters from the outskirts of Donetsk.

He said they had pulled back and were prepared to defend their positions.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives. — BBC

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