(EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands) — The bodies of victims from last week’s Malaysia Airlines crash are headed home, being flown to the Netherlands as the Dutch government declared a day of national mourning.
Meanwhile, the black boxes from MH17 were delivered to the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough, a spokesman told ABC News. Investigators expect to be able to download the info from the recorders within 24 hours. There is no significant damage to them.
Ukraine prepared a departure ceremony at the airport in Kharkiv for the passengers and crew of Flight17, which was shot down Thursday with 298 people on board, most of them Dutch citizens.
Sixteen bodies left aboard a Dutch C130, with an Australian C130 carrying an additional 24 bodies, authorities said.
The people of the Netherlands await the arrival of the bodies at Eindhoven Airport, the second-largest airport in the Netherlands. Church bells will ring across the country, five minutes before the two military planes touch down. Then a trumpet will sound, signaling the arrival of the planes. There to meet the planes will be the relatives of the victims and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as well as King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.
Following the arrival of the victims’ remains will be a minute of silence. A motorcade will carry the bodies to a military facility where authorities will work to identify the bodies, a process that could take months to complete.
Transport of the remains will continue for at least three days.
Wreckage from the aircraft fell on territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists who have been battling the Kiev government since April.
Senior U.S. intelligence officials presented evidence Tuesday that they say shows the plane was shot down by a Russian-made SA-11 missile, and that Russia “created the conditions” behind the shoot-down.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, in Australia for the International AIDS Conference, said that the people who shot the plane down are just as responsible even if they didn’t intend to shoot down a civilian flight.
“The people who did it and the people who made it possible for them to do it by giving them this weaponry, which could only have been used in an illegal way, do not in any way diminish their responsibility because the people they killed were different from the people they thought they were killing,” Clinton said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Ben Westcott, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Livia Borghese and Joshua Berlinger, CNN