In an effort to ensure the return of all remains of victims from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash, the Netherlands has sent 40 unarmed military police officers to the site. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in talks with President Vladimir Putin, also proposed deploying over a 100 armed Australian soldiers and police officers to help provide security. They are awaiting approval from Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and parliament. Prime Minister Abbott called the proposal a “humanitarian mission with a clear and simple objective.”
Meanwhile, the remains of some victims from MH17 have begun to arrive in the Netherlands. A team of Dutch national forensic experts from the Landelijk Team Forensische Opsporing is awaiting their arrival in Hilversum, Netherlands. There they will begin the process of identifying the bodies and parts recovered so they can be returned to their families. Eventually, all remains retrieved from the crash site will be sent to them.
The crash site is located in an unstable region of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels, who prevented rescue workers from searching for more bodies on Thursday. Access to the area had been cut off after a train carrying the remains of crash victims had left a nearby station for the city of Kharkiv.
Casualties from the Boeing 777 plane shot down over Ukraine totaled 298 passengers and crew. There were 193 Dutch and 27 Australian citizens.
Planes shot down in war zones
Unfortunately, there are other instances of commercial and civilian planes being shot down while flying over a war zone.
- According to the Aviation Safety Network, a recent example occurred on March 23, 2007 when a Transaviaexport Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 airplane was shot down in Mogadishu, Somalia. The plane was carrying cargo and humanitarian aid to the region. All 11 people onboard died from the crash.
- Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 was shot down by the Ukrainian military on October 1, 2001. The commercial airplane was traveling from Tel Aviv to Russia when it crashed into the Black Sea, killing all 78 people onboard.
Bringing victims home from a war zone
War can create more obstacles for families trying to locate the remains of loved ones. One such example comes from Korean Airlines Flight 007 that was shot down during the Cold War on September 1, 1983. The plane deviated from its flight path and ended up in Soviet Union controlled air space. It was flying to Seoul from New York City when it crashed into Soviet waters where all 269 people onboard were killed.
According to CBS News, the U.S.S.R. did not allow any international teams to thoroughly search the area for the wreckage. Soviet divers did locate the plane and some remains near Moneron Island. It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that flight data and communications from the cockpit became available to the international community.