MH17 victims arrive in Netherlands
A coffin of one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, is carried from an aircraft during a national reception ceremony at Eindhoven airport July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The bodies of victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 arrived Wednesday at Eindhoven airport in the Netherlands, where grief-stricken relatives stood alongside Dutch royalty dressed in black.

MH17 Reception Ceremony
King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (Left) and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attend the ceremony at Eindhoven airport. Reuters

Remains from the first 40 of the 298 passengers and crew killed in last Thursday’s disaster were offloaded by honor guards as a single bugle provided the only sound at the scene. Weeping family members hugged and held hands as they watched the process, made only more painful by the fact that they had no way of knowing which, if any, of the coffins on display contained their deceased relatives.

The arrival was following by a minute of silence throughout the Netherlands, with the small country declaring Wednesday a national day of mourning.

From Eindhoven, various reports have indicated, the remains were to be taken in 40 hearses to a military post in the center of Holland for identification. Forensic teams have been preparing almost nonstop since the crash last Thursday, although Prime Minister Mark Rutte warned that the process – which aims to identify all the victims killed, not just the Dutch – could take months.

A misleading tweet from the Associated Press flung Twitter into a momentary panic in the moments before the plane arrived. The message, which conveyed poor grammar rather than another tragedy, was quickly contradicted by reporters at the Eindhoven airport and clarified in a second AP tweet.