The Slatest

Dutch Enraged Over Treatment of Citizens’ Bodies at MH17 Site

A Dutch forensic expert near wagons containing the remains of MH17 victims at a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian town of Torez.

Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

One hundred ninety-three of the 298 individuals onboard downed flight MH17 were from the Netherlands, and the country’s government is outraged about the way victims’ bodies have been treated: Some were reportedly left in the sun for three days, and none of the remains have been repatriated yet.

In recent hours the bodies were reported to have left the rebel-held town of Torez in a refrigerated train. A Dutch military transport plane will be waiting to convey the deceased back to Holland should the train eventually arrive at its ostensible destination, the Ukrainian-government-controlled eastern city of Kharkiv.


Chief Dutch investigator Peter Van Vliet said that the storage of the bodies is “of good quality,” though the AP wrote that the “the smell of decay was overwhelming” at the train station and that the train’s refrigeration was affected by a power outage overnight, when the bodies were apparently already on board.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence with Ukrainian rebels to allow investigators full access to the crash site; in a statement earlier today, President Obama also made a similar demand after accusing “Russian-backed separatists” of blocking a transparent investigation.

Read more of Slate’s coverage on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.