MH17 salvage mission officially ended

MH17 repatriation mission (Picture: Rijksoverheid). (MH17 repatriation mission (Picture: Rijksoverheid))

The salvage mission in eastern Ukraine where flight MH17 crashed last year, has been completed. The last seven coffins are expected to arrive at Eindhoven airport at 16:00 on Saturday afternoon. From there they will be transported with the usual ceremony.

The team of 30 Dutch, Malaysian and Australian experts made a "final last stroke" on Thursday so that the mission can be officially ended. "Humanly we have done all that was possible", Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, leader of the repatriation mission, said on Thursday, ANP reports.

A large amount of remains and belongings of the victims as well as wreckage of the plane has been salvaged since the repatriation mission was resumed earlier this month. But Aalbersberg does not rule out that more may turn up in the future. "We can not guarantee that everything has been found, but well the certainty that we have done everything possible."

Aalbersberg thanked the Defense and police employees for the physically and mentally difficult work that many of them have done these past months. He also expressed his appreciation for the help that local authorities, residents and emergency services offered. "Thanks to the help of the emergency service SES we were able to make progress every day in the locations where we thought to find human remains and personal belongings. For this we are very grateful to them."

The Malaysia Airlines flight crashed on July 17th last year, killing all 298 people on board, including 196 Dutch people.