Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Dutch king shares national anger over disaster

THE HAGUE (AFP) - An emotional Dutch King Willem-Alexander said on Monday he shared national frustration over the fate of bodies from the downing of flight MH17, a disaster that has left "a deep wound in our society".

"Many people said to us: we just want to say a proper goodbye to our loved ones," the king said after meeting with around 1,000 relatives of the 193 Dutch citizens killed when the plane was shot down over rebel-held Ukraine on Thursday.

"We understand their frustration and their concern, and we share their wish for clarity about what caused this disaster," he said on television, addressing the nation for the first time.

"This awful disaster has left a deep wound in our society."

Relatives of the deceased from around the world are becoming increasingly angry at how the disaster is being handled, with bodies stuck in a train and lax security at the crash site.

"The whole of the Netherlands feels their anger, the whole of the Netherlands feels their deep grief," said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who also met with the bereaved relatives outside central city of Utrecht.

"Some have lost three or four people, sometimes direct family, sometimes a friend, relative, someone from their street," Mr Rutte said, calling on people to come together to support the bereaved.

Almost everyone in the nation of 16 million knows someone who knows someone who died on the flight, making the tragedy at once personal and national.

"The thought that they've already been lying in the heat for three days, while separatists, or terrorists, I don't know what they're doing around them," Ms Silene Frederiksz, who lost her son Bryce, 23, and his girlfriend Daisy, told De Telegraaf tabloid.

Mr Ruud Lahaye's brother John, 54, was killed in the crash along with his partner Lilian Brouwers.

"Of course we're not happy. It's going to take six weeks before they can come back to the Netherlands," he said. "It's difficult to take on board. From here we can't do anything."

One bereaved father wrote a savagely ironic open letter to whoever shot down flight MH17, "thanking" them for killing his 17-year-old daughter Elsemiek.

"Thank you very much Mr (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, separatist leaders or the Ukrainian government, for murdering my dear and only child," Mr Hans de Borst said in the letter published by Dutch media.

"I hope that you're proud to have destroyed her young life and that you can look at yourself in the mirror," wrote the bereaved father.

Others said they simply did not have the energy for anger, including Els, who lost her brother Paul, his wife and their two-year-old daughter.

She said she was trying to ignore reports of pillaging at the crash site.

"There's no point in getting angry, mourning already takes enough energy. It's better to light a candle for my brother, my sister-in-law and my niece," she told the AD daily.

Many are now thinking of how to bring those behind the downing to justice, with the Dutch public prosecutor's office saying it had opened a preliminary criminal probe into the crash, which left a total of 298 people dead.

Under Dutch law, the Netherlands can prosecute war crimes suspects, even for alleged crimes committed abroad, if one or more victims is Dutch.

The Malaysia Airways 777 is thought to have been brought down by a missile fired by pro-Russian separatists, and Mr Rutte has repeatedly called on Mr Putin to help retrieve the bodies and black box flight recorders.

"We want our people back," Mr Rutte told parliament on Monday.

A sea of flowers has been laid at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, where flight left en route to Kuala Lumpur, while a long queue of people waited to sign a condolence register. A silent march will be held in port city Rotterdam on Monday evening in memory of two Asian restaurant owners killed in the crash, with another silent march possible on Wednesday in Amsterdam.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.