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23 October 2014, 11:39
The body of one of the two Newcastle United fans killed in the MH17 disaster has been repatriated three months after the plane was shot down, his family said.
John Alder, 63, from Gateshead, was flying with his friend Liam Sweeney, 28, to watch their beloved Newcastle United play pre-season friendlies in New Zealand.
They were among the 298 people who died when the Malaysia Airlines plane was brought down over Ukraine in July.
Mr Alder's family, who live in County Durham, issued a statement through Durham Police, saying he has been brought back to the North East.
``The family of MH17 victim John Alder would like it to be known that John's body has now been returned to Gateshead and would like to express their gratitude for all the support and good wishes received during this long and difficult period.
``Preparations are now being made for a private funeral service for John's family and friends later this month.''
A funeral for Mr Sweeney was held in August, attended by hundreds of well-wishers including Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew and club captain Fabricio Coloccini.
The lengthy repatriation process was caused by delays in accessing the crash site due to the ongoing fighting in the area, and the difficult process of identifying remains.