173 Dutch die in Ukraine plane crash
Kuala Lumpur, July 18, 2014
The number of Dutch passengers on the Malaysian airliner shot down over eastern Ukraine totalled 173, a statement from Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai showed on Friday.
That was higher than indicated earlier.
There were 44 Malaysians on board, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and nine Britons, the figures showed. The nationalities of 20 passengers had yet to be verified.
The Dutch prime minister has ordered that flags fly at half mast at government buildings across the country after the death of at least 173 of his country's citizens in what he said might be the worst air disaster in the Netherlands' history.
The Dutch were among 298 passengers and crew, including three infants, aboard a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that crashed while crossing above the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels are fighting forces controlled by the government in the capital Kiev.
Speaking at Schiphol Airport after interrupting his holiday in southern Germany on news of the crash, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was a "black day" for the Netherlands.
"The whole of the Netherlands is in mourning," he said. "This beautiful summer day has ended in the blackest possible way."
The 15 flight crew - two captains, two flight officers and 11 cabin crew - were all Malaysian citizens.
Malaysia Airlines' Europe vice president Huib Gorter told reporters that relatives would be provided with support if they requested it and could be flown from Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur to Kiev if they so wished.
"You cannot imagine what's happening to these people right now," he said. "They are our main concern." - Reuters