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Netherlands observes day of national mourning for MH17 victims
The Hague, July 23 (IANS) The Netherlands observed a day of national mourning on Wednesday for the victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine.
This was the first time the country had observed a day of national mourning since 1962.
Flags flew at half-mast on all main buildings of the central government, municipalities and provinces, and at Dutch diplomatic missions abroad, Xinhua reported.
Church bells will ring at different times of the day and for five minutes before the first aircraft with the bodies of the victims arrives in Eindhoven around 4 p.m.
After the plane lands, a minute’s silence will be observed nationwide. The government has not stipulated that shops should close or events be cancelled.
A special prayer service will be held at St. George Church in Amersfoort, broadcast live on Dutch television while a silent march is scheduled to take place in Amsterdam in the evening.
Flight MH17, while flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed last Thursday in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The dead included 193 Dutch nationals.
Reports indicated that the Boeing 777 crashed after being hit by a missile. US President Barack Obama said initial investigations showed that the missile was fired from an area in Ukraine controlled by anti-Kiev militants.
The Netherlands does not have a tradition of national mourning days, but various political parties requested for it Monday as a way to commemorate the victims and Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "If the need arises, we can change that."
It was announced Tuesday that Wednesday would be designated a day of national mourning.
The last day of national mourning was Dec 8, 1962, the day when late Queen Wilhelmina was interred. On that day many events were cancelled across the country.