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9 December 2014, 14:27
The first pieces of wreckage of flight MH17 which was downed over Ukraine last summer have arrived in the Netherlands for examination by crash investigators.
A total of 298 people, including Newcastle fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, were killed when the Malaysia Airlines Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur Boeing 777 was seemingly shot down on July 17 in an area where pro-Russian separatists operated.
With around 40 next of kin looking on, two convoys comprising eight trucks laden with wreckage arrived at Gilze-Rijen air force base in southern Holland.
A hangar at the base has been specially cleared to house the wreckage which will now be examined by the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) which is leading the investigation into the tragedy.
To start with the DSB will photograph, scan and categorise the wreckage before starting on work to reassemble part of the plane.
At the same time, police will conduct a criminal investigation in the same hangar under the management of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service. The investigations by the DSB and the Public Prosecution Service will be conducted separately and independently of each other.
The DSB said that at a later date, next of kin will be offered an opportunity to view some of the wreckage after the partial reconstruction of the plane.
The rest of the recovered wreckage is expected to arrive in the Netherlands later this week.
Up until last month, the DSB had had only limited access to the crash site. But recovery work was able to begin on November 16 and lasted for a week.
It was then decided to transport the wreckage to the Netherlands by road.
A preliminary report by the DSB in September said wreckage was ``consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside''.
Despite the difficulty in accessing the site due to fighting in the area, the black box flight recorders were recovered early on and were passed to the DSB after being inspected at the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) headquarters at Farnborough in Hampshire.
In its September preliminary report, the DSB said the black box information showed the MH17 flight proceeded normally until 1.20pm local time after which all recordings ``ended abruptly''.
The DSB said pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places and that most likely there had been ``an in-flight break-up''.
The board added that it aimed to publish a full report within one year of the date of the crash.
The MH17 disaster followed on from the disappearance in March this year of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 237 passengers on board.
A reconstruction of a section of the MH17 aircraft by Dutch investigators would echo the work done by the AAIB which gathered wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 after it exploded over Lockerbie in December 1988 and painstakingly rebuilt part of the fuselage at Farnborough as part of its investigation.