On 17 July 2014 flight MH17 was shot down while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur over an area of Ukraine controlled by Russian forces. On board were 283 passengers and 15 crew members. Among the passengers were 196 Dutch citizens and victims from nine other countries, including many from Malaysia and Australia.
The debris of the aircraft was spread out across several kilometres of farmland, with parts of the plane falling down just 50 metres from a nearby village. Bodily remains and personal belongings were scattered around the crash site.
Grabovo, July 17, 2014 - Flight MH17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile from an area under control of Russian-backed separatists. None of the 298 passengers and crew members survived. © Pierre Crom
Shocked local residents and mine workers joined Ukrainian rescuers in the search for bodies before the international recovery team arrived. Remains of many victims were gathered in the days after the crash and flown to the Netherlands to be identified. As the first bodies arrived in at the military air base in Eindhoven on July 23, the Dutch government declared a Day of National Mourning. Searches of the crash site were halted on 6 August amid concerns that intensifying fighting in the area posed a threat to the search team.
The Netherlands is coordinating criminal investigations into the disaster. Ahead of MH17’s downing, Russian forces in Ukraine had shot down several military aircraft in the war zone. Although early reports show that the aircraft was targeted from the ground, Russian forces have denied responsibility for shooting down the plane.