Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Prime Minister Najib Razak and several top officials were present at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to receive the bodies.

People across the country observed a minute of silence at 10:55 am (0255 GMT) after a Malaysia Airlines plane landed with the remains of 20 of the 43 Malaysians killed in the crash on July 17 that left all 298 on board dead.

The caskets and urns, all draped with the national flag, were lowered from the aircraft by the armed forces personnel and transferred to a row of waiting hearses.

Flags flew at half-mast nationwide and state television aired recitations from the Quran and photos of the victims. The first batch of the remains will be accorded a full military ceremony in the presence of the dignitaries.

Prime Minister Najib on Thursday had called on all Malaysians to unite as one nation in observing a minute of silence in honour the victims of the MH17 tragedy.

‘No words can express the sense of loss in seeing the bodies return, my prayers are with the victims and families of #MH17,’ Najib said on his Twitter feed.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said three of the 20 remains had been cremated in the Netherlands and would be brought home in urns.

Latest News from World News Desk