26 Sep 2014

Police return from MH17 mission

12:04 pm on 26 September 2014

Six New Zealand police officers have returned home after a harrowing two months identifying hundreds of victims from the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine.

Flight MH17 broke up in mid air after being hit with what Dutch experts said were "high velocity objects" and crashed in an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels in July this year. All 298 people on board were killed, including New Zealanders Rob Ayley and Mary Menke.

Flight MH17 was shot down over east Ukraine in July with the loss of 298 lives.

Flight MH17 was shot down over east Ukraine in July with the loss of 298 lives. Photo: AFP

The officers went in two rotations to Holland where, the remains of the victims were sent. Inspector Mike Wright, Constable Barry Shepard and Senior Constable Al Hendrickson left within a week of the tragedy.

They were replaced three weeks later by Inspector Geoff Logan, Senior Sergeant Steve Harwood and Sergeant Karl Wilson.

The New Zealand officers helped indentify 183 victims from the tragedy. They worked as part of a New Zealand-Australian team and matched known details of passengers with any forensic evidence that could be found from the July crash.

Inspector Wright said he had a sense of satisfaction knowing his work helped grieving families.

"Like all those I've worked with, I get a real sense of satisfaction from knowing I've been able to bring closure to families in particularly trying circumstances," he said.

Mr Wright said the team worked incedibly well together.

"Nothing is achieved without teamwork. It starts before you get where you're going."

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