AMSTERDAM: The sending back of bodies to Malaysia before Hari Raya remains a challenge because it is uncertain if Malaysian victims were among the first batch of bodies that were sent from Kharkiv, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.
The first batch of 40 bodies arrived at Eindhoven airbase shortly before 4pm local time (10pm Malaysian time) yesterday from Kharkiv.
Liow said he hoped the first batch of bodies could be sent home before Hari Raya, but admitted it would be a very tough challenge.
“We will try our best but if some of the remains need DNA tests, it will be difficult.
“This is also a detailed investigation which we cannot compromise because we want to find out the truth. The post-mortem will provide evidence as to what had happened to the victims,” he said.
An additional hurdle, added Liow, was that they could not be certain whether there were any Malaysian victims in the first batch of bodies because the body bags were not opened in Kharkiv.
He explained that the bags were only scanned for explosives before being loaded onto the plane.
Nine Malaysian disaster victim identification (DVI) experts are assisting in the multinational identification process.
Liow said the Netherlands authorities would be breaking up the teams into smaller groups so that the identification process could be done as quickly as possible.
On reports that there were just 200 bodies accounted for at Kharkiv, he said the Malaysian team there verified that more than 280 bodies had arrived in the refrigerated train cars.
At the Eindhoven airbase yesterday, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte were among those present as a Dutch and Australian military aircraft arrived, bearing 16 and 24 bodies respectively.
Others included the next of kin and representatives of countries, whose nationals were among the victims and other dignitaries.
A military salute was given and a nationwide minute of silence observed before the coffins were brought out and loaded into the waiting cars under the searing sun.
The bodies were then transported to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks in Hollandsche Rading on the outskirts of Hilversum in a motorcade with police escort.
Liow thanked Rutte and his government for the support, sympathy and collaboration the Netherlands had provided to Malaysia since MH17 was shot down last Thursday.