EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) — Recently discovered remains of some of those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were flown back to the Netherlands on Saturday, nearly four months after the passenger jet plunged out of the sky over eastern Ukraine.
The remains, in five coffins, arrived on board a military transport plane and were carried to waiting hearses in a solemn ceremony at a military air base in the southern city of Eindhoven.
They were being taken to barracks in Hilversum where a team of experts is working to identify all 298 passengers and crew who were on board the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was downed on July 17. Most of the victims were Dutch.
So far, 289 of the victims have been positively identified.
On Monday, the Netherlands is holding a national commemoration service in Amsterdam for the victims. Hundreds of grieving relatives are expected to attend, along with politicians and the Dutch king and queen.
Dutch investigators probing the exact cause of the crash say it was likely hit in midair by multiple "high-energy objects," a preliminary conclusion that some aviation experts say is consistent with a missile strike.
Dutch police are carrying out a separate criminal investigation into what happened. The head of the criminal investigation said the most likely scenario being investigated is that the Boeing 777 was shot down from the ground.
Pro-Russian separatist rebels have always staunchly denied their involvement in bringing down the plane.
Initial investigations on the crash site had to be called off because of battles raging nearby between government troops and rebel forces.
The air crash investigators recently announced plans to have the plane's wreckage collected and returned to the Netherlands so that parts of the plane can be reconstructed to assist the investigation.