A guard stands on the train carrying the remains of victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. - Reuters
KIEV: The train from rebel-controlled Torez arrived in Kharkiv on Tuesday where the remains of the MH17 victims will be transferred into Dutch custody, and brought to the Netherlands for identification and repatriation.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said he was relieved that the train, bearing 282 bodies and 87 body fragments in refrigerated carriages, had safely arrived in Kharkiv around 11am Ukraine time (4pm Malaysian time).
He added that the bodies would need to be scanned first before being loaded onto the plane as part of standard security protocol.
“This is an important milestone in this MH17 tragedy. Our Malaysian forensics team will quickly swing into action to identify the bodies once they reach Amsterdam,” he told The Star.
The bodies were finally moved to Kharkiv after an agreement between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and separatist leader Alexander Borodai.
The Malaysian representatives who are overseeing the transfer of the remains would then be flown in a Dutch C-130 Hercules transport plane to the Netherlands.
Liow said he himself would head to Amsterdam once the remains of the MH17 victims have been safely loaded onto the Netherlands-bound aircraft.
He added that he would first meet the Dutch ambassador in Kiev before flying off.
“We will sort out the details regarding the identification of the bodies in Amsterdam. This is so we can send back the bodies back to their respective states as soon as we can,” he said.
Liow also noted that thanks to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the three-man Malaysia expert team dispatched to join in investigations at the crash site, had safely arrived in Donetsk.
They will be under the care of the pro-Russian separatists there and will be brought to Torez.
The team members are DCA senior assistant directors Capt Philip Joseph Selvaraju, 42, Mohd Naemy Fahimy Mustapa, 38 and Malaysia Airlines engineering director Azahari Dahlan, 53.