Family members of passengers on the flight are transported to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after learning of the incident. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares
The Dutch prime minister ordered that flags fly at half mast
at government buildings across the country after the death of
at least 154 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
"The whole of the Netherlands is in mourning," he said. "This
beautiful summer day has ended in the blackest possible way."
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was operating as a
code-share flight with the Dutch flagship carrier KLM, was
also carrying at least 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians, 11
Indonesians, six Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, three
Filipinos and one Canadian.
The 15 flight crew - two captains, two flight officers and 11
cabin crew - were all Malaysian citizens. The nationalities
of a further 47 were as yet unknown.
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."