DNA being collected to ID Ukraine crash victims

DNA being collected to ID Ukraine crash victims

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Forensic teams fanned out across the Netherlands on Saturday to collect material that will assist positively identify the remains of victims killed in the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine. Families & friends of the dead huddled to console one another at churches, schools & sports clubs across the nation.

Altius, a small soccer club on the edge of the central city of Hilversum, was typical of scenes that played out across the Netherlands.

A couple of dozen members held a small ceremony at Altius' clubhouse to remember a family of four killed in the crash, as the team's flag fluttered at half-staff in the warm afternoon breeze.

p>Charles Smallenburg was a long-time volunteer at the club, his young son Werther a promising striker in the D1 youth team, club chairman Tom Verdam told The Associated Press after the brief get-together. Charles' wife Therese & daughter Carlijn moreover died, the club said.

As Hilversum's mayor walked away & families unlocked their bicycles behind him & cycled homeward, Verdam said the commemoration was simple, yet emotional.

"We had a moment that we could each share emotions & talk approximately it," he said. "It's a small club, so everyone knows everyone"

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A Altius soccer club flag flies at half-staff at the soccer club in Hilversum, Netherlands, Saturday …

The same could almost be said for this nation of 17 million people.

"Everybody knows somebody," was the front-page headline of national newspaper NRC Weekend.

While grieving continued, the task of identifying bodies strewn over Ukrainian fields since Thursday's crash received underway.

Police said in a tweet that 40 pairs of detectives from the National Forensic Investigations Team would be visiting victims' relatives over the coming days. Other Dutch forensic experts were en route to the crash scene, Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in Ukraine.

Their aim is to build a database of material including DNA & photographs of distinguishing features like scars & tattoos that can be used to identify bodies & body parts recovered from the crash site in eastern Ukraine. Malaysia Airlines said 193 of the 298 passengers & crew killed in Thursday's aviation disaster were Dutch.

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A woman passes flowers placed in front of restaurant Asian Glories in Rotterdam, Saturday, July 19,  …

The airline released the full list of passengers & crew Saturday & appealed to family & friends of the victims to contact the carrier so it can obtain a full picture of the next of kin.

"In the past 45 hours, the airline together with various foreign embassies have made every effort to establish contact with the next-of-kin yet is still unable to identify many more family members," Malaysia Airlines said in a statement.

The European Union police coordination body Europol said Saturday it would assist Interpol & other agencies in identifying victims in Ukraine.

"We will do our utmost to support the work that must be done following this horrific incident, where hundreds of families & friends to the innocent victims on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 are grieving & left with unanswered questions," Europol Director Rob Wainwright said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines said it is assessing security in Ukraine before taking a decision approximately possibly flying next of kin to the country where their family members lost their lives.

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A woman carries flowers on her way to attend a gathering at soccer club Altius in Hilversum, Netherl …

A spokesman for the airline said family members were being cared for in Amsterdam while a team from the carrier, including security officials, is in Ukraine assessing the situation.

The spokesman, who declined to be named in line with company policy, said the team was trying to travel "500 kilometers (310 miles) through difficult territory" to reach the area where wreckage of the Boeing 777 landed.

Dutch newspapers carried pages of photos & stories Saturday approximately the dead. Travelers flying out of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport laid flowers & signed a condolence book before boarding their flights, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to Kuala Lumpur.

"I am not really afraid. It's satisfactory that they kept the same flight number," Mirelle Geervliet said as she prepared to board the aircraft. "It doesn't alter anything. If you alter the number, people will start to be afraid."

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on a visit to the Netherlands, was among those who signed the condolence book at the airport.

"This is a real tragedy — a tragedy for families, for nations & for the HIV AIDS community," Annan said, referring to a researcher & at least five other people who were traveling to an AIDS conference in Australia. "We should all hope that a thorough international investigation will be conducted & we will know what happened & the culprits should be held to account."

Society & CultureMalaysia AirlinesUkraineNetherlands

Source: “Associated Press”

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