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Remains of MH17 Victims Returned to the Netherlands After New Discovery

Close to four months after the Boeing 777 crashed, investigators uncovered more remains belonging to some of the 298 passengers killed.

by Liz Fields
Nov 8 2014, 8:39pm

Photo by Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

The newly discovered remains of victims who perished when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was downed over eastern Ukraine this summer were flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday for identification.

Close to four months after the Boeing 777 crashed, investigators uncovered more remains belonging to some of the 298 passengers killed, according to the Associated Press.

The remains were transported in five coffins on a military plane to an Eindhoven air base Saturday. They were then transferred to hearses and taken to a barracks in Hilversum, where experts are working to identify the remaining unidentified victims of the incident.

MH17 was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17 when it was shot down at an altitude of 30,000 feet by a suspected surface-to-air missile over a remote, rebel-held battlefield in Ukraine near the Russian border. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board were killed. Many of them were Dutch.

All but nine of the victims have been positively identified so far.

MH17 crash site reportedly looted by rebels. Read more here.

The incident sparked international outrage. The tragedy was immediately exacerbated by reports that rebels were looting and purposefully tampering with the unsecured crash site, including removing body parts and plane fragments before investigators could reach the scene.

Ukrainian authorities have blamed pro-Russian separatists for the incident, and have also implicated Russia for supplying the weaponry suspected of taking down the plane. Both Moscow and the rebels have denied these claims.

Early investigations into the cause of the crash were halted after renewed fighting broke out between Ukrainian forces and separatists seeking independence in the country's east. Shelling and gunfire in the region has continued, despite a tenuous ceasefire agreement signed between the parties and Russia in early September.

Dutch authorities are now conducting two separate investigations into possible crash scenarios, including that a number of high-energy objects hit the plane, which damaged its structure and caused it to crash.

Flight MH17 broke apart when hit by high-energy objects, report on Ukraine crash finds. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields