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21 more MH17 victims identified as investigators leave crash site

‘The fact that we are now leaving the crash site doesn’t mean we have ceased investigating the cause of the disaster,’ said Dutch PM on Wednesday.

File photo dated 22 July, 2014, showing a Ukrainian separatist fighter at the MH17 crash site.
File photo dated 22 July, 2014, showing a Ukrainian separatist fighter at the MH17 crash site.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

DUTCH FORENSIC EXPERTS have identified the remains of a further 21 victims of the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster, bringing the number identified to 23.

The plane exploded over Ukraine on 17 July, killing all 298 on board.

The latest victim identifications include the remains of 16 Dutch citizens, including a dual British national, two Malaysians, one German, one Canadian and one from the UK, according to the Dutch justice ministry.

The next of kin have been informed.

The Dutch justice ministry also said that although a team of over 200 experts are working in the identification process, it could take months to identify all of the recovered remains.

Search suspended

Forensic experts and investigators have begun arriving back in the Netherlands after their work at the crash site was called off over safety concerns.

On Wednesday, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the search for any more body parts at the site is being suspended. ”The fact that we are now leaving the crash site doesn’t mean we have ceased investigating the cause of the disaster,” he said, adding that Dutch experts will return to the site when conditions permit it.

Rutte said that the main areas where remains are expected to be found have been searched, resulting in the recovery of victims’ remains as well as personal belongings. A large amount of recovered luggage is to be transported back to the Netherlands tomorrow.

The Dutch Prime Minister also noted the role played by locals in the recovery of remains from the crash site:

We recently learned from a Ukrainian medical officer, who coordinated recovery efforts in the first few days after the crash, that an intensive search was carried out during that time, with the help of 800 volunteers. Many bodies were recovered then, all of which are now back in NL. The fact that our teams found few remains over the past few days would seem to confirm that more work was done in the immediate wake of the disaster than we previously thought.

Additional reporting by the AFP

Troubled Malaysia Airlines shares suspended as it prepares to go private >

Search for remains of MH17 flight victims called off >

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