Respect for the departed: A motorcade leading a column of funeral hearses near Waardenburg after leaving the Dutch Eindhoven airbase to Hilversum on the third day of transfer of the bodies of the Dutch victims of MH17. — AFP
AMSTERDAM: The last batch of body bags from the trains in Torez has reached the Netherlands from Kharkiv, said National Security Council (NSC) MH17 Search and Recovery Malaysia mission head Khairil Hilmi Mokhtar.
He said 227 coffins in total were flown here.
“The total number of body bags is yet to be verified. It is likely that there are more than one body bag in some of the coffins,” he told reporters here.
He said that 70 personnel who had assisted in the SAR operations in Kharkiv and Kiev had arrived in Malaysia after departing Ukraine on Friday.
Khairil Hilmi said there were 48 Malaysians still in Europe to assist in investigations: 12 in Ukraine, 34 in the Netherlands and two in Britain.
He said there were 21 Malaysian disaster victim identification (DVI) experts in the international investigation team at Hilversum carrying out identification and post-mortem on the victims.
A Bernama report yesterday said that it might take up to two or three weeks more for the bodies of Malaysians to be brought back.
Lt-Col Mohd Sakri Hussain, principal assistant secretary of the National Security Council, said the delay was because the bodies were in pieces.
Lt-Col Mohd Sakri, who was one of the investigators sent to Ukraine, was speaking to reporters at the KL International Airport after his return from Kiev yesterday.
He said the team of investigators found no intact bodies.
“It must be remembered that the incident took place at 35,000 feet,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NSC is to convene a special meeting with investigators of MH17 to re-evaluate the task ahead and discuss the needs and support required in Ukraine and the Netherlands.
NSC secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said the meeting would be conducted with the investigators who returned to Malaysia yesterday.
“After the meeting with the investigators, we will immediately work out the next course of action to be pursued by Malaysia.
The Malaysia-led task of preparing the bodies for burial has been completed,” he said.
He added that the Malaysian team would prepare the bodies for burial in accordance with internationally recognised standards.
Mohamed Thajudeen said the Ukrainian separatists had been requested to notify Malaysian authorities if they found more bodies or body parts.
More stories on MH17