MH17 Tragedy: Aug 22 Declared National Day Of Mourning
PUTRAJAYA, Aug 14 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin Thursday announced that Aug 22 (Friday) has been declared as a National Day of Mourning as the date will witness the arrival of the remains of Malaysian victims of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 tragedy in Ukraine.
He said a ceremony in respect of those killed in the tragedy would be held that day at the Bunga Raya Complex, KL International Airport (KLIA) following the arrival of 16 bodies, including that of a non-Malaysian citizen.
He said the remains of the 16 victims would be transported via a special aircraft from Amsterdam which was expected to arrive at KLIA at 10am.
"The ceremony to honour the victims will be solemn, as the occasion demands," he told a media conference after chairing a meeting on the ceremony to honour the victims of the MH17 tragedy.
Muhyiddin said the Yang Dipertuan Agong was scheduled to be at the ceremony, which would also be attended by the Prime Minister, Cabinet ministers, Menteris Besar, Chief Ministers and the families of the victims.
He said, however, there would be no public holiday in conjunction with the National Day of Mourning.
During the ceremony, he said the coffin carrying the remains of each victim would be carried by ceremonial officers from the Malaysian Armed Forces and taken to 16 hearses and given respect in accordance with their respective religions, besides observing a moment of silence.
Of the Malaysian victims, he said nine were not Muslims.
The identities of the victims would only be announced during the ceremony, he added.
Muhyiddin said the remains of several the victims would be sent to their hometowns accompanied by their next-of-kin.
He said Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Nuri aircraft would fly three of the coffins to peninsula states while a RMAF Charlie aircraft would fly one to Sarawak.
He said there had been requests to cremate the remains of two victims in the Netherlands before being flown home.
He said the remains of a Netherlands national was also being flown to Malaysia to be buried here following a request.
He said the victim was formerly a Malaysian who had married a Netherlands citizen.
To date, Muhyiddin said the remains of 24 Malaysian victims had been identified by the authorities in Amsterdam, of 14 passengers and 10 crew.
He said the remains of the rest of the Malaysian victims had been identified but had not undergone the complete process and would be sent home in stages.
"Its not that we don't want to bring them all back together but the authorities there will decide on a suitable time to bring them home," he said.
"For the rest of the remains, we are still waiting for the signal from the Netherlands and it is being monitored by the Transport Ministry and MAS.
"After Aug 22, there is a possibility of a flight every few days so the next-of-kin won't have to wait long," he said.
Muhyiddin said a ceremony to honour the other Malaysian victims would also be done but not too elaborately.
He said no deadline had been set on the search for all the Malaysian victims because the effort was ongoing to enter the site in Ukraine, which was a battleground.
"We have not finished yet. The parties there (especially the Netherlands) are still carrying out the forensic and DNA processes. Let's wait until all is completed," he said.
Flight MH17, owned by Malaysia Airlines with 298 people onboard including 15 crew (all Malaysians), crashed in the Donetsk Region, east Ukraine close to the Russian border on July 17.
Twenty-eight of the passengers were Malaysians with the rest mostly Dutch.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft was believed to have been shot down, but to date no party has claimed responsibility.