Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: Cruel wait continues for victims' families awaiting truth

They left Schiphol on shuttle buses as Holland mourns


Distraught relatives left the airport departures hall on shuttle buses, some tearfully clinging one another for comfort, most simply staring ahead, stunned, as they prepared for the anguished wait for news of loved ones most likely lost in a distant conflict zone.

“You cannot imagine what has happened to these people,” Malaysia Airlines executive Huib Gorter said of the relatives, vowing to devote all their manpower to looking after the bewildered men and women who had started gathering at Schiphol Airport last night as the sun set over Amsterdam.

“This beautiful summer day has ended in the blackest possible way,” said the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Joining in the mourning yesterday were people across The Netherlands, after it emerged that more than 170 of the 298 people aboard Flight MH17 when it crashed deep in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine were Dutch, including children and a prominent AIDS researcher.

Flags flew at half-mast this morning at government buildings across The Netherlands, as people tried and process the nation's worst loss of life in an aviation disaster since 1977, when 238 Dutch citizens were killed after a KLM plane collided with another aircraft at Tenerife airport.

MH17 - read more: US believes plane was hit by surface-to-air missile
i100: What we do and do not know
Why was passenger plane flying over conflict zone?

For the relatives of the victims, all they can do now is wait at an undisclosed location in Schiphol Airport as scant details trickle out of an area in Ukraine where a separatist insurgency is raging. Mr Gorter said the location was about seven or eight hours by road from Kiev, but said they were trying to get officials to the site as quickly as possible.

  The carrier has also offered to fly relatives from Amsterdam to Kiev, should they wish to travel closer to the site of the tragedy. A Malaysian Airlines official told the Evening Standard that it was unlikely to arrive in Amsterdam until later today, however, so the relatives' painful wait goes on.

What world leaders are adamant about is that the family members will get clarity on the cause of the crash, with both the rebels and the Ukrainian government forces accusing the other of shooting the plane down and amid reports that insurgents were hindering access to the site.

While Mr Rutte would not be drawn on the cause of the crash, his Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans, called for “unhindered and safe” access to the site for rescuers and investigators. US President Barack Obama also called Mr Rutte late last night to offer his condolences.

MH17 -read more: Malaysia Airlines was already in crisis
World dreads international consequences
How does this compare with previous air disasters?

“The President told the Prime Minister the United States was prepared to contribute immediate assistance to support a prompt, full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation,” the White House said, urging “immediate access... to facilitate the recovery of remains”.

It also emerged yesterday that the plane was carrying a number of researchers and activists to an AIDS summit in Australia, among them Joep Lange, a Dutch national who was prominent researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society “The HIV/AIDS movement has truly lost a giant,” the society said yesterday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor