23 July 2014
Last updated at 10:27
The first planes carrying victims’ bodies from crashed flight MH17 have left Ukraine for the Netherlands, where experts will begin identifying them.
The Dutch prime minister will meet the planes in Eindhoven, amid a national day of mourning for the victims.
A total of 200 bodies have so far been accounted for from the 298 victims, 193 of whom were Dutch nationals.
The US says it believes pro-Russian rebels shot down the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane on 17 July by mistake.
The rebels, who control the area around the crash site, have also been accused of stalling the release of the bodies and tampering with evidence.
A refrigerated train carriage carrying about 200 bodies arrived at the government-held city of Kharkiv on Tuesday, four days after the crash.
Experts said they would continue to search the crash site.
Honour guards carried the coffins on to two planes at Kharkiv airport
Teams of investigators from several countries are still at the crash site
On Wednesday morning, 40 coffins were slowly loaded on to two military planes at Kharkiv airport.
The BBC’s Daniel Sandford in Kharkiv says ambassadors, officials and soldiers gathered to see off the planes.
Australian government envoy Angus Houston said the ceremony was intended to give the victims the “respect and dignity they deserve” after a “tragedy of unspeakable proportions”.
The Dutch government representative said the victims had begun their “long journey” home.
The first flight is due to arrive in Eindhoven at 16:00 local time (14:00 GMT) and will be met by members of the Dutch royal family and the Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The bodies are then due to be taken to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks south of Hilversum for identification.
Mr Rutte said that process could take months.
In a separate process, the “black box” flight-data recorders from MH17 have arrived in the UK, where they will be examined at the headquarters of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough.
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#Donetsk As bus leaves women press hands to windows towards faces of loved ones.
We are at crash site and weird how some personal belongings disappeared in last 2 days.piles smaller,things rearranged #mh17
#Donetsk 3/3 white minibuses taking pple to Rostov in Russia. Fear now of Ukr army advance
#Donetsk 1/2 so many shops shut, city getting emptier by the day.People fear war coming to them soon
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In Washington, officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence presented evidence they had gathered on the involvement of the rebels.
“It’s a solid case that it’s an SA-11 [missile] that was fired from eastern Ukraine under conditions the Russians helped create,” said the officials, who requested that their names not be reported.
They said the “most plausible explanation” for the shooting down of the plane was that rebels mistook it for another aircraft.
The evidence they presented included:
- Satellite images of a facility allegedly used to train rebels near the Russian city of Rostov, which were later tweeted by Geoffrey Pyatt, US ambassador to Ukraine
- Other images purportedly showing a surface-to-air missile launcher in the area
- Analysis of voice recordings of pro-Russian rebels apparently admitting bringing the airliner down
- Photos and messages from social-media sites pointing to rebel involvement
Experts have expressed concern that forensic evidence at the crash site could be lost
Separately, a rebel militiaman told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that he had been ordered to the crash site minutes after the plane had gone down.
He said his commanders had told him: “We’ve just shot down one of the Kiev fascists’ planes.”
The militiaman said: “We thought we were looking for baled-out Ukrainian pilots but instead we found dead civilians.”
The US and other nations have accused rebels of blocking access to the crash site, putting valuable evidence at risk.
In Australia, former American President Bill Clinton paid tribute to six HIV/Aids campaigners who were on board MH17.
He said their lives had been “overpowering in their contribution to a shared future”.
Meanwhile, the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and rebels has continued, with reports of fighting near Donetsk and Luhansk.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Tuesday the army had captured the town of Severodonetsk, 140km (90 miles) from the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.
The fighting in eastern Ukraine erupted in April and is believed to have claimed more than 1,000 lives.