First Malaysian bodies from MH17 crash fly home


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The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine in July are due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur, as the nation holds a day of mourning.

A specially chartered plane took off from Amsterdam and is expected to land at about 10:00 local time (02:00 GMT).

National flags will be flying at half-mast across the country and a minute of silence will be observed.

Flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. They deny the claim.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 died on 17 July.

At Kuala Lumpur airport, the plane from the Netherlands is expected to be met by senior Malaysian government officials.

The caskets will be unloaded and put in hearses by military personnel. The bodies will then be given to the victims’ relatives to be laid to rest.

This is the first time Malaysia is holding a national day of mourning for civilian victims.

The honour has traditionally been accorded only to the royal family and heads of government.

Of those on board Flight MH17, 43 were Malaysian nationals.

So far 28 Malaysian victims have been identified in the Netherlands, which is leading an international investigation into the crash in eastern Ukraine.

More than 200 coffins with remains of the victims have so far been taken to the Netherlands.

But the inquiry is being hampered by continuing fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels near the crash site.

-BBC

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