First wreckage of flight MH17 in the Netherlands

The first pieces of wreckage of flight MH17 have arrived in the Netherlands. Two convoys comprising eight trucks arrived at Gilze-Rijen air force base at 02.00 p.m. The transport will be unloaded in accordance with a fixed procedure and will then be photographed, scanned and categorized. The investigation of the wreckage and preparation for the reconstruction effort will then commence.

A designated hangar at the air force base has been cleared especially for the investigation of the wreckage. Here, investigation teams led by the Dutch Safety Board will investigate the cause and progress of the crash. At the same time, investigation teams of the police will conduct a criminal investigation in the same hangar under the management of the Public Prosecution Service. The investigations by the Dutch Safety Board and the Public Prosecution Service will be conducted separately and independently of each other. As it is vital to both investigations that the wreckage can be examined, agreements have been made.
 
About 40 next of kin took up the invitation to attend the arrival of the first pieces of wreckage. At a later date, next of kin will be offered an opportunity to view (some of) the wreckage after its (partial) reconstruction next year. The Dutch Safety Board and the Public Prosecution Service will inform the next of kin as soon as it becomes clear when the viewing can take place.

Wreckage recovery

Recovery of the wreckage of flight MH17, commissioned by the Dutch Safety Board, began at the crash site on Sunday, 16 November. The recovery was preceded by a long period of preparations. Due to the precarious safety situation in the disaster area it was uncertain, immediately before and during the recovery, how long the recovery operations would be able to continue. For this reason, the Dutch Safety Board had prioritised what wreckage was to be recovered first. In all, twelve railway wagons full of wreckage were recovered in six days. Initial expectations were for four wagons to be filled. Recovery operations were suspended after six days due to the unpredictable safety situation and because all areas that could be visited had been searched.
 
The Dutch Safety Board received assistance from the Dutch Ministry of Defence in both the preparation for and execution of the recovery mission. During the recovery mission assistance was provided by at least twenty workers of the SES, the (Ukraine) State Emergency Service. Sites searched during the recovery operation included large and small burn sites, fields on the roads to the town of Hrabove, a chicken farm near Hrabove and woods to the west of the chicken farm. The village of Rozsypne was also searched. Due to the safety situation the recovery mission was unable to go to Petropavkliva. SES workers did search here briefly and recovered several essential pieces of wreckage.

Agreements

To enable the recovery of wreckage, the Dutch Safety Board agreed certain arrangements with the Ministry of Emergency Services with regard to handing over the wreckage and SES assistance.  These documents have now been published on website of the Dutch Safety Board (www.safetyboard.nl). The first document concerns the recovery of the wreckage. The second concerns the period subsequent to the recovery. This is because some wreckage of the aircraft remained in the disaster area at the end of the recovery mission.
 
The investigation team will use various sources of information to determine the cause and progress of the crash of flight MH17. These include the Cockpit Voice Recorder, the Flight Data Recorder and Air Traffic Control data. While examination of the wreckage may provide new information, it will also be used to verify information derived from other sources.
 
With the arrival at Gilze-Rijen, two of the four convoys carrying wreckage have now reached their destination. The other two convoys are still en route and are expected to arrive in the Netherlands during the course of the week.