The sad, chaotic aftermath of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 plane crash continued Tuesday as confusion grew over the number of bodies taken for repatriation via to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. As The Washington Post reports, one Dutch forensic expert initially claimed that the train was only conveying the remains of some 200 victims, not the 282 bodies Ukrainian investigators had confirmed. Rescuers say they have recovered 87 body parts believed to belong to 16 others who perished when the plane was likely shot down by pro-Russian rebels in this corner of eastern Ukraine.
The dark context of the plane's downing clouded the rescue operation, with rebel fighters playing a meddling, obstructive role, bagging remains improperly and allegedly tampering with evidence amid the wreckage. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country had 28 nationals aboard the flight, pointed an accusatory finger at the rebel forces who took charge of the crash site. "This is still an absolutely shambolic situation. It does look more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation," Abbott said on Monday.
The same day at the United Nations, the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans made a moving speech at the Security Council. The majority of the 298 people who died on MH 17 were Dutch citizens. "For the Netherlands, one priority clearly stands out above all others: bring the victims remains home."
Timmermans went on, expressing shock and disgust at the way the situation has been handled so far. "Until I die, I will not understand that it took so long before rescue workers were able to do their difficult job in Ukraine," he said, "and that human remains were used as a political game. I hope that I never have to see that again." You can watch his full statement above.