“We expect that the first plane with the remains on board will leave for Eindhoven tomorrow,” Rutte told a news conference in The Hague.
A train carrying around 200 body bags and black boxes from the downed flight MH17 arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv around midday Tuesday, some 18 hours after it left the town of Torez near the crash site.
From there, the bodies of the crash victims will be transported by Australian C-17 and Dutch C-130 military aircraft back to the Netherlands, to Eindhoven, and then taken for identification to a military base in Hilversum.
Rutte warned that the identification process could take “weeks or even months”.
“Preparations will be made in Kharkiv so that identification can be done in the Netherlands as well as possible,” Rutte said. “As soon as a victim is identified, first and foremost the family will be informed and no one else.”
“Our next priority is to investigate the causes of the air crash,” Rutte said, adding that Ukraine had agreed to allow the Netherlands to lead the investigation into the shooting down of the flight.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing-777 airliner en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the area of combat operations between local militias and Ukrainian governmental troops in east Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Thursday, July 17. All 298 people aboard the plane, including 193 Dutch nationals, died in the air crash.