Malaysia's MH17 victims back on home soil as national mourning begins

Malaysia Airlines flight attendants (unseen) throw white flowers as a convoy of hearses carrying the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at the Bunga Raya complex in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Malaysia Airlines flight attendants (unseen) throw white flowers as a convoy of hearses carrying the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 at the Bunga Raya complex in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Relatives attend a ceremony for the return of the remains of Malaysian victims from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Relatives attend a ceremony for the return of the remains of Malaysian victims from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Malaysia Airlines flight attendants cry during the arrival of the remains of Malaysians who perished aboard flight MH17 that was downed in eastern Ukraine outside Bunga Raya complex in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Malaysia Airlines flight attendants cry during the arrival of the remains of Malaysians who perished aboard flight MH17 that was downed in eastern Ukraine outside Bunga Raya complex in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a Malaysian victim from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine during a ceremony at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: A
Soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a Malaysian victim from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine during a ceremony at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a Malaysian victim from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine during a ceremony at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: A
Soldiers carry a coffin with the remains of a Malaysian victim from the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine during a ceremony at the Bunga Raya complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on Aug 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A plane carrying the remains of 20 people who died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 tragedy touched down on Friday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as flags flew at half-mast and grieving Malaysians dressed themselves in black. -- PHOTO: THE S
A plane carrying the remains of 20 people who died in the Malaysia Airlines MH17 tragedy touched down on Friday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as flags flew at half-mast and grieving Malaysians dressed themselves in black. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

The plane carrying the remains of 20 people who died in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 tragedy touched down just before 10am on Friday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Amsterdam, as flags flew at half-mast and grieving Malaysians dressed themselves in black.

Draped with Malaysian flags, the caskets were placed by military pallbearers in army ceremonial dress on cargo pallets and lowered from the plane's cargo hold. Another team of eight pallbearers carried each casket in a slow march to funeral vans lined up behind military outriders, as the Agong arrived for a sombre ceremony to honour the departed.

Friday has been declared the national mourning day for the 43 Malaysians onboard Flight 17 which was shot down over restive eastern Ukraine on July 17 enroute home from Amsterdam. At 10.54am, one minute of silence was observed.

Across the country, Malaysians remembered the tragedy in their own ways.

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall ordered all entertainment outlets to cease operations for 24 hours while Penang ordered toll operators at the bridge to the island to stop collection during the scheduled a minute's silence.

Malaysians on social media posted their own memorials, making the hashtag #MalaysiaBerkabung (Malaysia mourns) one of the top topics trending globally on micro-blogging platform Twitter.

Kiev has blamed pro-Russia separatists for launching a missile strike on the Malaysian jet but Moscow claims that Ukrainian fighter planes were responsible for the loss of the airliner and the 298 onboard.

The Boeing 777 was the second Malaysian jet lost in four months, after MH370 mysteriously went missing March 8 on the way to Beijing, a tragic period that has traumatised the nation.

shannont@sph.com.sg