The Netherlands receives first bodies from Flight MH17 with sombre ceremony

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A sombre ceremony has taken place in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, with the arrival of the first bodies of victims of the Malaysian passenger plane shot down over Ukraine.

After a minute silence, observed across the country, and a trumpet salute, some 40 coffins were taken off military aircraft that arrived from Ukraine.

The Dutch King and Queen and the prime minister were there, as well as the families of some of the victims. They looked on in silence during the unloading of the bodies, which took more than 90 minutes.

The coffins were loaded into the back of hearses, and became part of a convoy that left for a military base in the town of Hilversum, about an hour’s drive north of Eindhoven.

A team of forensic experts will then begin the pains-taking task of formally identifying the remains, a process that could take weeks.

Almost two thirds of the 298 people on board the plane were Dutch.

The first bodies of the victims were flown from Kharkiv in Ukraine after a military ceremony at the airport there; it is still not known exactly how many bodies were taken there by train from the crash site.

Further ceremonies are planned later, including in Amsterdam, where flight MH17 took off last Thursday.

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