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MH17 bodies to be taken to the Netherlands

Train laden with bodies of passengers from downed airliner heads to Ukrainian city of Kharkiv en route to Netherlands.

Last updated: 21 Jul 2014 17:18
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Each of the train wagons carrying the bodies was opened and examined by Dutch investigators [Reuters]

The bodies retrieved from the rebel-held eastern Ukraine site where a Malaysian Airlines passenger jet was shot down are on their way to the Ukrainian government-controlled city of Kharkiv before they are to be transported to the Netherlands.

"All the bodies have been loaded onto a special train in refrigerated wagons, and we expect after 19.00pm (1700 GMT) the train will set off for Kharkiv," Volodymyr Groysman, the deputy prime minister, said on Monday.

"All the bodies will be taken to the Netherlands."

Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler, reporting from Kharkiv, said officials had said there were 282 bodies and 87 body parts on the train.

"We know there is a Hercules cargo plane from the Netherlands already on the tarmac waiting here. By the time the train gets here in five or six hours, the bodies will be loaded onto that Hercules cargo aircraft and flown to the Netherlands," he said.

"There has been little progress and a lot of back and forth, but this is the first piece of good news for the families."

Dutch investigators had earlier on Monday inspected the bodies recovered from the downed flight MH17 which had been loaded on a train under rebel control near the village of Grabov.

Each of the train's wagons carrying the bodies was opened and examined by two men wearing masks and headlights.

"I think the storage of the bodies is [of] good quality," Peter Van Vliet, the forensic expert leading the Dutch team, said after examining the corpses.

In the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, prime minister, had said the priority was to move the bodies to Ukraine-controlled territory.

"The first aim is to get the trains out and let them go to Ukrainian-controlled territory, preferably Kharkiv," Rutte said.

Kharkiv, a major city, is about 300km away from the crash site.

"The separatists have said that international observers must be present when the train leaves ... the Dutch experts are international observers ... they can fulfil that role," Rutte said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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