Flight MH17: Families to see plane wreckage

Trucks carrying pieces of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 stand on a rest area of the A2 highway near Hanover. Picture: Getty
Trucks carrying pieces of wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 stand on a rest area of the A2 highway near Hanover. Picture: Getty
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Families of those who lost loved ones on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was downed over Ukraine last summer, will be able to witness the arrival in the Netherlands tomorrow of wreckage from the plane.

A total of 298 people, including 10 Britons, were killed when the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Boeing 777 was seemingly shot down on July 17 in an area where pro-Russian separatists operated.

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Wreckage recovered from the site will arrive at Gilze-Rijen air force base in southern Netherlands at 1pm UK time tomorrow.

Next of kin have been invited to watch as a convoy of trucks carrying the wreckage enters the air base. After it has been unloaded all the wreckage will be photographed, scanned and categorised by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) which is leading the investigation into the crash.

The DSB will then start an inspection of the wreckage and will prepare to reconstruct part of the aircraft in a hangar specially set aside for the investigation.

Up until last month, the DSB had had only limited access to the crash site. But recovery work was able to begin on November 16 and lasted for a week.

It was then decided to transport the wreckage to the Netherlands by road.

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A preliminary report by the DSB in September said wreckage was “consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.

Despite the difficulty in accessing the site due to fighting in the area, the black box flight recorders were recovered early on and were passed to the DSB after being inspected at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.

In its September preliminary report, the DSB said the black box information showed the MH17 flight proceeded normally until 1.20pm local time after which all recordings “ended abruptly”.

The DSB said pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places and that most likely there had been “an in-flight break-up”.

The board added that it aimed to publish a full report within one year of the date of the crash.

The MH17 disaster followed on from the disappearance in March this year of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 237 passengers on board.

A reconstruction of a section of the MH17 aircraft by Dutch investigators would echo the work done by the AAIB which gathered wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 after it exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988 and painstakingly rebuilt part of the fuselage at Farnborough as part of its investigation.