Thousands line route as bodies of MH17 victims go by
THE bodies of the first victims from a Malaysian airliner shot down over Ukraine last week have arrived at a military base in the Netherlands.
Bells pealed and flags flew at half mast in memory of the 298 people killed when flight MH17 came down in an area of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists, in the first national day of mourning since wartime Queen Wilhelmina died in 1962.
Australian Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joined the Dutch King and Queen and prime minister Mark Rutte to receive the bodies.
A military guard of honour stood to attention as a trumpeter played The Last Post, the military funeral call for people killed in war.
After a minute's silence - observed in stations, factories, offices and streets across this stunned nation - servicemen from all four branches of the Dutch military boarded the Dutch Hercules C-130 and Australian Boeing C-17 to carry the coffins to 40 waiting hearses lined up on the runway.
MH17: Ukraine fighter jets shot down close to crash site
Ukraine has accused rebels of shooting down two fighter jets on Wednesday close to where the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, killing all 298 passengers on board.
A spokesman for Ukraine's military operations told Reuters the planes were hit near Savur Mogila, a burial mound in the Shaktersky region where a memorial marks ambushes by the Soviet army on occupying Nazis during World War Two.
But a separate statement from Ukraine's Security Council on Wednesday said preliminary information suggested the missiles had been fired from Russia. Moscow has not responded to the claim.
"Two of our jets were hit at an altitude of 5,200 metres. According to preliminary information, the missiles were launched from the territory of the Russian Federation," the council said.
The military jets were downed just 35 km (20 miles) from the MH17 crash site in the village of Grabovo in eastern Ukraine.
The fate of the pilots and any crew remain unknown.
The separatist Donetsk People's Republic said in a statement on its website that one of the pilots was killed and another was being sought by rebel fighters.
Fighting has continued in the Donetsk region between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists after the air disaster.
Local health officials said hundreds had been killed and over one thousand wounded since hostilities started in eastern Ukraine earlier this year.