DRIEBERGEN, THE NETHERLANDS, July 22 The remains
of the victims of last week's downing of a Malaysian airliner
will begin to arrive in the Netherlands on Wednesday, but the
intricate and harrowing process of giving names to the bodies
could take weeks or months, Dutch officials said.
Two military transport aircraft will touch down at 1400 GMT
at the airport in Eindhoven in the southern Netherlands on
Wednesday, which has been declared the country's first day of
mourning in more than half a century. The convoy will be the
first of many.
At Eindhoven, the first bodies will be unloaded to a solemn
trumpet salute as dignitaries including the Dutch King and Queen
and representatives of other countries that lost citizens look
on, the Dutch governement said.
The Netherlands is taking the lead in identifying the 298
victims of Thursday's crash, 193 of whom were Dutch. Some
preparatory work has been done in Kharkiv, where Dutch forensics
experts have established an operations centre.
But the real work will only start once the bodies have been
transported from Eindhoven to a military base in the town of
Hilversum, near Amsterdam. There, forensic examiners will
compare the remains with material gathered from family members.
"Since last Saturday, for three days already, we have 80
family detectives on the way to the relatives, who collect all
the information about the missing people," said Ed Krasziewski,
a spokesman for the national forensic investigation team.
That information includes personal identifying marks, from
tattoos to scars. Detectives have sought out dental records,
fingerprints and DNA material where it is available, and
assembled it all into a so-called ante-mortem file that is
available to compare with the remains stored in Hilversum.
"There are many victims," Krasziewski said. "We don't know
the state of the victims; we have to look at what they bring us
tomorrow, and then we will see."
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the
process of identifying the remains could take weeks or months.
Most of the bodies are already in Ukrainian-controlled
territory at Kharkiv, where identification teams from agencies
including Interpol are carrying out preliminary examinations.
But the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said
some body parts remain at the crash site in rebel-controlled
(Reporting By Svebor Kranjc and Thomas Escritt; Writing by
Thomas Escritt; Editing by Larry King)