EINDHOVEN, Netherlands - The first 40 bodies of 200 Dtuch people who were killed on Malaysia Flight 17 were greeted by a dignified reception at Eindhoven airport by the Dutch royal family and grieving relatives on Wednesday in stark contrast to the previous treatment of the victims bodies being left to rot in the summer heat for three days by pro-Russian separatists who stripped the victims of their possessions and blocked the forensic investigation.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands were seen on the airport tarmac holding hands and wiping aways tears as the bodies were removed from the transporter aircraft. A lone bugler played the traditional military farewell "Last Post" during the ceremony as the 40 bodies were brought home in simple wooden caskets from two military planes. Soldiers then walked the caskets to waiting hearses where they were seen giving one last final salute.
After the somber ceremony, a long line of 40 hearses carrying the souls were seen being escorted by police as hundreds of thousands lined the streets in Hilversum to pay their respects as the hearses made their way to a Dutch military base where forensic investigators will begin the painstaking and grim work to identify the 40 bodies with the help of grieving families.
As the Netherlands declared Wednesday to be an official day of mourning, windmills were seen placed at "mourning position" with the wings tilted to the right and flags were flown at half-staff. Dutch TV, radio, courts suspended all trials, and flights into Amsterdam's Schipol airport suspended to honor the victims and show their respect.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Safety Board said in a statement on Wednesday that the crash investigators say they are still unable to visit the site of the crash under safe conditions saying they don't have everything they need. "At the time of writing, the investigators have not yet been able to visit the site of the crash and conduct their investigation under safe conditions."
The two "black boxes" retrieved from the Malaysia Airlines plane arrived in the UK on Wednesday after taking days for the pro-Russian separatists who control the area of the crash scene, to hand over the boxes to Malaysian officials.Skilled investigators will now try to unspool what is crucial information needed the Dutch safety board said will take weeks to yield the results. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it will also take weeks and maybe even months before the bodies can be identified.
Officials on Monday said the bodies of 16 people are still unaccounted for and may be scattered among the sunflower fields where the Malaysia plane went down where the debris spans several miles long.
U.S. officials said on Tuesday, pro-Russian rebels are responsible for shooting down that plane however are suggesting the rebels may not have known it was a commercial airliner.