Two Dutch military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster departed for the Netherlands yesterday, while Australia’s government dispatched 50 police officers to London to prepare to join a proposed UN team to secure the scattered wreckage.
All 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 — most of them Dutch citizens — were killed when the plane was shot down on July 17.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says he fears some remains will never be recovered unless security is tightened, has proposed a multinational force mounted by countries such as Australia, the Netherlands and Malaysia that lost citizens in the disaster.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was traveling with her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, to Kiev to seek a memorandum of understanding with the Ukraine government to allow international police to secure the area where the wreckage fell, Abbott said.
Details including which countries would contribute and whether officers would be armed and protected by international troops were yet to be agreed, Abbott said.
The first bodies of the crash victims arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday and were met by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and hundreds of relatives of victims.
Ukraine’s government said 51 containers of bodies and body parts had been cleared for yesterday’s flights.
At least 200 bodies were aboard the train that brought them from the crash site to Kharkiv earlier in the week.
Russia yesterday brushed off accusations by US officials that Russia was responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the crash.
The US officials said that the plane was likely shot down by an SA-11 surface-to-air missile fired by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a video statement that if the US officials indeed had the proof the plane shot down by a missile launched from the rebel-held territory, “how come they have not been made public?”
Meanwhile, calls to expel Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter from the Netherlands over flight MH17 have fallen flat, with many noting that their Argentine-born queen has not been punished for her father’s junta past.
Despite calls from Ukrainian activists and right-wing Dutch newspapers for Maria Putin, 29, most in the Netherlands said that you cannot blame a child for the sins of his or her father.
Mayor Pieter Broertjes of Hilversum, which lost several inhabitants in the crash, hit the headlines on Wednesday after calling for Maria to be kicked out.
However, Broertjes rapidly withdrew his call, saying it had been “unwise” and came “from a feeling of impotence.”
Maria moved to the Netherlands with her Dutch partner two years ago.
In related news, the EU would target state-owned Russian banks and their ability to finance Moscow’s faltering economy in its most serious sanctions so far over the Ukraine crisis under proposals considered by EU governments yesterday, diplomats said.
Ambassadors of the 28-nation bloc met in Brussels to discuss options drafted by the executive European Commission in response to the downing of Flight MH17.
In the key measure, European investors would be banned from buying new debt or shares of banks owned 50 percent or more by the state. These banks raised almost half of their capital needs in EU markets last year.
The proposals also included an arms embargo, although diplomats said it would apply to future deals.
After months of hesitation, powerful EU states including Germany, are now pushing for quick action.
Despite German urgency, several diplomats said they believed economic sanctions would not be finally agreed yesterday and a further ambassadorial meeting next week may be required.
Additional reporting by Reuters
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown