Some MH17 belongings returned soon


Items belonging to passengers of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 will be returned to families in the coming weeks Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a television audience. Aalbersberg, head of the Dutch victims repatriation mission, says the first batch of personal affects will be given to Malaysia Airlines by the air crash investigators as early as next week. The airline is to then coordinate with family and friends of the victims.

Scattered items include stuffed animals, jewelry, photo albums, clothing and suitcases, he said on television show Pauw.

The belongings were first handled as evidence in the crash, in case the items could help conclusively determine why the Boeing 777 destined for Kuala Lumpur blew apart in the skies over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. The crash occurred close to the Russian border, where Ukrainian nationalists have been fighting a violent civil war with Russian-backed rebel separatists.

The explosion, possibly from a surface-to-air missile, created a widely scattered debris field, and Aalbersberg said many items handed over to his team were stumbled upon by residents of the region. "Last week, someone came to us to turn in a memory card from a camera," he said.

"Who knows if there is still a photo on it?"

He went on to say that every item collected is important, and justifies staying in the region to bring back as much as possible to the Netherlands.

Nearly 300 people died in the plane crash, of which almost 200 had Dutch nationality. The victims of the flight, which originated in Amsterdam, were honoured yesterday in a national memorial service.