The remains of 40 victims of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have been returned to the Netherlands on a national day of mourning.

298 people were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed in the Ukraine, including 193 Dutch passengers.

The Boeing 777 was shot down over Ukrainian airspace with a ground-to-air missile, according to a Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser.

Two hundred bodies at the crash site in eastern Ukraine were released by the pro-Russian rebels yesterday. They were taken by train to the Ukrainian government-controlled city of Kharkiv.

40 of the bodies were transported from Kharkiv airport on two military planes earlier today. (23 July)

In the solemn ceremony at Eindhoven airport, 1000 relatives of the victims and members of the Dutch royal family were united in their sorrow.

A visibly emotional Queen Maxima of the Netherlands broke down in tears as the wooden coffins were carried out of the transporter vehicle onto waiting hearses by military personnel.

Bells rang in mourning across the country and the Last Post played at the airbase. A minutes silence was observed before the motorcade took the bodies to the site of a makeshift morgue at the Korporaal Van Oudheusdenkazerne military barracks in Hilversum.

Members of two British families who lost their lives in the crash, were among those attending the emotional reception. Yet, none of the relatives even know if it is their loved ones whose bodies have been returned.

Malayisa Flight MH17
Queen Maxima is visibly emotional as the coffins arrive at the airbase. AFP / Getty Images

A painstaking identification process will follow and is expected to take several months before the bodies are released for repatriation.

A team of nine disaster victim identification (DVI) personnel from Britain, including six police officers, a crime scene manager and forensic photographer, will assist the Dutch authorities, who are leading the investigation.

Jean Fransman, a spokesman for the ministry of security in the Netherlands said: "We have chosen this location because these facilities have everything that's needed to carry out the identification process as quickly as possible with respect and discretion."

The process of identifying the bodies will begin using DNA, dental records and finger print, with a team of 150 investigators in the central Dutch city of Utrecht recruited for the grisly task.

They include police officers, military personnel, forensic dentists and other medics, who have been tasked with collecting samples from close relatives around the country to help identify the 193 Dutch victims.

Malayisa Flight MH17
People lined the roads as the funeral cortege passed by. AFP / Getty Images

Jos van Roo, the team leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team, known as the LTFO, said: "We have been collecting DNA samples, hair, fingerprints, information about scars or tattoos or moles."

The identification process has been so distressing - even for experienced investigators - that the team is being assessed by a psychologist on a daily basis.

He said this information would then be handed to the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) which will use sophisticated software called Bonaparte to match those samples to the victims.

It is thought more than 80 bodies and remains are still at the scene.

Meanwhile, the investigation into what happened to flight MH17 is underway. The black boxes retrieved from the wreckage of the ill-fated plane arrived in Farnborough, Hampshire, where a team of British investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch will analyse its contents for clues about what happened in the moments before the plane was shot out of the sky.