1st aircraft carrying victims' remains expected in Eindhoven on Wednesday

Speaking on Tuesday at 13:00, Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave a summary of the latest developments relating to the air disaster in Ukraine. Mr Rutte said he expects the 1st aircraft carrying victims' remains to land in Eindhoven on Wednesday. 'As soon as the aircraft lands at Eindhoven Airport, the victims will be transferred to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks in Hilversum, and once a positive identification has been made, the immediate next step will be to inform the next of kin.'

Mr Rutte:

Good afternoon. I would like to inform you about recent developments relating to the aftermath of last week's terrible air disaster. This morning, shortly after 4:00, I received a telephone call from the head of the civil service crisis team informing me that the train containing the victims had arrived in Ukrainian-controlled territory. Around 10:30 the train arrived in Kharkiv. As you know, our top priority is and will remain bringing back our people, all our people. In Kharkiv, preparations are being made so that identification work can be done as effectively as possible back in the Netherlands. As soon as a number of victims are ready for transport, an aircraft will depart for Eindhoven. We hope and currently expect that the 1st flight carrying victims will depart for Eindhoven tomorrow in the course of the day, though we'll know more about that later. We will continue to transport the victims to the Netherlands in stages until all the remains, all the victims now in the train, are back in this country. We are doing this in stages because this is the best way of making the necessary preparations in Kharkiv for transportation, but also of ensuring that identification can begin as quickly as possible in the Netherlands. As soon as the aircraft lands at Eindhoven Airport, the victims will be transported to the Korporaal van Oudheusden barracks in Hilversum, and once a positive identification has been made, the immediate next step will be to inform the next of kin. No one else. This may happen rapidly, but I have to caution you that it could also take weeks or even months.

Our next priority is investigating the cause of the disaster. We will leave no stone unturned. And on that front I can inform you that the Netherlands, at the request of Ukraine, has been granted leadership of the investigation. Our focus is now also on finding any remaining victims and personal belongings. The Dutch experts will be getting to work in the field as soon as possible. With respect to the investigation, I can also tell you that the black boxes were in the train that arrived in Kharkiv this morning.

As regards the international context, yesterday the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that once again underscores the same priorities as those of the Dutch government. This is also a good tool for keeping up international pressure on progress in the recovery of our people, the investigation of the cause and the prosecution of those responsible for this horrific disaster.

Today, the 28 foreign ministers of the European Union are also meeting in Brussels to discuss further measures. I have said before that I am keeping all options open. These talks are happening in Brussels as we speak. The Dutch position is that we want justice; we want consensus within the European Union; we want a call to be made for Russia to do more to calm the unrest in the east of Ukraine and prevent further unrest. In our view something fundamental changed last Thursday. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, all options are on the table: economic, financial and political. Our priories are: bringing back our people, conducting the most effective possible independent investigation, and getting justice.