MH17 recovery officially ended as final remains arrive

Victims from flight MH17 are transported along a Dutch highway (photo: Ministerie van Defensie). (Victims from flight MH17 are transported along a Dutch highway (photo: Ministerie van Defensie))

A Dutch Hercules C-130 aircraft landed in Eindhoven shortly before 4 p.m. carrying seven coffins with human remains from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plane crash in eastern Ukraine. The military transport plane’s landing marked the official end of the MH17 international recovery effort, 290 days after the tragedy.

A procession of uniformed pallbearers finished loading the caskets into hearses by 4:44 p.m. They were scheduled to drive to the forensic evidence center in Hilversum following the ceremony, where investigators will attempt to identify the victims.

Nearly 300 people were killed when flight MH17 disintegrated in the skies above a war zone, where Ukrainian nationalists were battling Russian-backed separatists. Of those onboard the Boeing 777, 198 were Dutch citizens.

Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg was in charge of the Dutch repatriation mission, and announced the end of the project on Thursday. “Humanly, we have done all that was possible,” he said. He thanked police department and Defense Ministry workers for their help, citing the physically and mentally-demanding job at hand.

MH17 was on its way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when it crashed on July 17. The flight took off from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.