Victorian couple Mary and Gerry Menke are the first of 38 Australians who were aboard Malaysian Airline flight MH17 to be positively identified.
Victorian couple Mary and Gerry Menke are the first of 38 Australians who were aboard Malaysian Airline flight MH17 to be positively identified.

First Australian MH17 victims positively Identified

THE first Australian victims of the Malaysian Airlines tragedy have been positively identified.

Victorian couple Mary and Gerry Menke were among the 298 passengers aboard MH17 which was on-route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when Russian-backed militants blew the airliner out of the sky last month above eastern Ukraine.

The couple were two of the 38 Australian citizens and residents who were aboard the plane.

The Menke family said, in a statement on Friday, they were relieved their loved ones were finally coming home.

"We are relieved that Mary and Gerry Menke have been identified and wish to thank all those who have helped in this process," the statement said.

"We look forward to receiving Mary and Gerry again soon in the place and the community they loved so much and which loved them.

"Once again we extend our deepest condolences to all those affected by this tragedy."

Dutch forensic experts said on Friday they had positively identified a total of 127 victims who were aboard the downed airliner.

They said they were currently in the process of notifying 20 families.

Dutch justice officials said in a statement dozens of its officials and around 200 investigators were working on the criminal probe into the crash.

They said it was expected an initial report into what brought down MH17 would be made available within a few weeks.

"As far as we know, this is the largest criminal justice investigation in the history of the Netherlands," the statement said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said everything humanly possible would be done to ensure the remains of the Australian victims are reunited with their grieving families.



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