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Monday 22 September 2014

Remains of 20 tragic MH17 victims arrive home

Published 22/08/2014 | 06:59

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Malaysian Army soldiers carry a coffin containing one of the bodies of the downed MH17 flight upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The bodies and ashes of 20 Malaysians killed when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, the first repatriation of victims from the flight to the country. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysian Army soldiers carry a coffin containing one of the bodies of the downed MH17 flight upon arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Malaysia Airlines crew members hold flowers as they wait outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims' bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The remains of at least 15 Malaysians killed when the jetliner was shot down over Ukraine will be returned to their home country this week, the first Malaysian victims of the disaster to be flown home, the country's defense minister said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Malaysia Airlines crew members hold flowers as they wait outside Bunga Raya Complex at Kuala Lumpur International Airport where victims' bodies of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to be flown back, in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
The remains of a victim of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are carried during a repatriation ceremony at KLIA airport in Sepang, August 22, 2014.   REUTERS/Olivia Harris (MALAYSIA - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
The remains of a victim of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are carried during a repatriation ceremony at KLIA airport in Sepang, August 22, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

The bodies of 20 Malaysians killed when a jet was shot down over Ukraine in July have arrived in Kuala Lumpur.

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It was the first repatriation of victims from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 to the country.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07:  Mourners embrace as they leave after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. The Government has declared Thursday 7 August 2014 to be a National Day of Mourning.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Mourners embrace as they leave after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07:  The parents of Australian MH17 victim Fatima Dyczynski, Dr Jezy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski (unseen) leave after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. The Government has declared Thursday 7 August 2014 to be a National Day of Mourning.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
The parents of Australian MH17 victim Fatima Dyczynski, Dr Jezy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski (unseen) leave after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 07:  A mourner wipes a tear from her eye as she leaves after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. The Government has declared Thursday 7 August 2014 to be a National Day of Mourning.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
A mourner wipes a tear from her eye as she leaves after attending a national memorial service as Australians mourn the loss of all victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at St. Patrick's Cathedral on August 7, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

The government has urged people to wear black and observe a minute of silence and prayer.

A charted Malaysian Airlines jet arrived at the international airport from Amsterdam, where the bodies of all the victims were first taken.

All 298 people onboard died when the plane was shot down over an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia separatists as it flew to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam.

The victims included 43 Malaysians and 195 Dutch nationals.

It was the first day of national mourning in Malaysia's history, in a country which is still coming to terms with the disappearance of Flight 370 and its 239 passengers and crew earlier this year.

The victims were carried aboard a specially chartered Malaysian Airlines jet and received in a solemn ceremony on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The coffins were draped in the Malaysian flag and carried by teams of eight soldiers to waiting hearses before being taken to private funerals.

Malaysia has been spared many of the natural disasters that regularly strike other countries in Asia, but the downing of Flight 17 was the second tragedy to hit the national airline this year following the disappearance of Flight 370 on March 8.

The government was heavily criticised for its response to the missing jet, but Prime Minister Najib Razak won praise for brokering a deal with the pro-Russian separatists to allow for the return of all the bodies on Flight 17 and ensure international access to the black box flight recorders.

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