Canberra: Australia Tuesday sent a C-17 military plane to the Netherlands to bring back the victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which crashed in Ukraine last Thursday.
The heavy-lift transport plane took off from its base in the Middle East and is heading for the Dutch city of Eindhoven, where the Netherlands` second-largest airport is located, Xinhua reported.
Prime Minister Tony Abbot Tuesday announced the launch of `Operation Bring Them Home`, which would be headed by the country`s Air Chief Marshal (retired) Angus Houston, and involves diplomatic and emergency services personnel across continents to repatriate the bodies and investigate the crash site.
After the announcement, Abbott attended a ceremony at Parliament House to sign a condolence book for the victims of MH17.
Diplomatic representatives of countries that lost citizens on the plane also attended the ceremony and signed in the register.
Victims` remains retrieved from the crash site have been loaded onto refrigerated trains and are bound for the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, from where the Australian plane will assist the Dutch in flying them back to the Netherlands for identification.
According to reports, 282 bodies as well as recovered body parts have been loaded onto the trains.
Flight MH17, a Boeing 777, was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, when it crashed after being hit by a missile in Ukraine near the Russian border, killing all 298 passengers and crew members on board.
This is the second major tragedy for Malaysia Airlines this year after flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board went missing while going from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing March 8. That flight remains untraced till date despite intense international efforts.